Stream Entering Meditation Centre – Summer 2015 Newsletter 
Plum Village Australia
Unified Buddhist Church - Australia
 


From the Editors

Dear Thay, Dear Sangha,

For the closing edition of Nhap Luu News in 2015 we saved for your reading pleasure two special sharings which arose from the recent Spring Opening Retreat. We hope you'll enjoy the prose from Julia Byford in Canberra, and the verse from Brisbane Sangha member, Ahn Thu. 

Some readers may also remember that we introduced you to the ‘Tuesdays with Thay’ practice of the Five Mountains Sangha from Northern NSW a couple of years ago (Nhap Luu News, Autumn 2013). Well, for this quarter’s edition, our dharma sister Virginia White has offered us all a very touching and deep sharing in that exact style.

As always, you can also read about the recent activities of the Sisters at Nhap Luu in the section ‘From the Sisters’ further on in the issue, and it includes an invitation to share New Years Eve together- at the Meditation Centre..  

At a time when there is a worldwide focus on how we, as a species, consume, it seems opportune that in this Summer edition we are looking at the Fifth Mindfulness Training to close that particular series. It is concerned with responsible consumption. Without mindfulness, we have already sent this planet and all its inhabitants towards a very precarious future. 

Often when we read the Fifth Mindfulness Training, ‘Nourishment and Healing’, we initially think of food and eating, and then perhaps of other frequently imbibed sense impressions. So while it is appropriate to bring attention to Thay’s beautiful words on the practice of mindful meals, it is also important right now to underline the need for us all to engage in deep looking to see the truth of our own individual habits of consumption in the widest sense. How do these habits affect the health of our home, this planet? Perhaps then we can look at the changes we need to make in our own lives, in order to halt the march of global warming and help nourish and heal the planet we love: Read the Earth Peace Treaty Commitment Sheet.

We were recently given a very beautiful expression of Buddhist understanding of responsibility in this matter in the ‘Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders’ (http://gbccc.org). It was signed by many Buddhist Leaders from around the world including Thay. We have also been encouraged to reflect on our own personal lifestyles in terms of  environmental impact, as well as actions we can take as a community  in ‘Call to Action: People’s Climate Prayer’ from Plum Village (http://plumvillage.org/news/call-to-action-peoples-climate-prayer). We hope to include more practical ideas for making some changes in the next edition of Nhap Luu News. 

Deep cultivation of Mindfulness can give us the capacity to see and understand what we must change and the strength to take action. A beautiful New Year resolution could well be that we use our insight to put into practice the aspirations related to the care of our planet contained within both the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the Five Contemplations.

We wish that you will read deeply, enjoy deeply and be inspired.

Happy New Year!
 

Susan Wirawan (Chân Nguyện Lưu) 
True Aspiring Stream 
for the Editors.

 
 

IN THIS ISSUE


Thay planting a Bodhi Tree Sapling
Thailand, 2013

A Plum Village Presence at the Melbourne People's Climate Action Rally
November 27th, 2015. Photo courtesy June Savage.
 

Retreat Poetry

Tiếng chuông thanh thoát vang ngân
Đưa về chánh niệm, sáng ngần tự tâm
Tiếng chuông hùng tráng diệu âm
Gọi rừng thức dậy, nảy mầm yêu thương
Tiếng chuông vang điệu chân thường
Thảnh thơi vững chãi trên đường độ sinh.

Anh Thu (Brisbane), at Cave Hill Creek 2015



The Big Bell - Spring Opening 2015. Photo Mark Chalmers (Harmonious Stream of the Heart)

How graceful and resounding
The sound of the bell
Bringing us back to our true home
To see things without illusion

How mighty and miraculous
The sound of the bell
Waking up the forest
Nurturing the seeds of Loving Kindness

How profound and serene
The sound of the bell
Keeping us solid and free
On the Boddisattva Way.

Translation: Than Quy Tram Thi, and
Dang Trinh Le
Melbourne

 
Painting. Plum Village France

Dharma Teaching

THE FIFTH MINDFULNESS TEACHING

Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practising mindful eating, drinking, and consuming.

I will practise looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness.

I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations.

I will practise coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment.

I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption.

I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.

 Photo courtesy Paul Davis CHÂN PHÚC ĐƯỜNG (True Hall of Merits).
 

Eating Together

Eating a meal together is a meditative practice. We should try to offer our presence for every meal. As we serve our food we can already begin practising. Serving ourselves, we realize that many elements, such as the rain, sunshine, earth, air and love, have all come together to form this wonderful meal. In fact, through this food we see that the entire universe is supporting our existence.

We are aware of the whole sangha as we serve ourselves and we should take an amount of food that is good for us. Before eating, the bell will be invited for three sounds and we can enjoy breathing in and out while practising the Five Contemplations:

  • This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and much hard and loving work.
  • May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.
  • May we recognise and transform unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed and learn to eat with moderation
  • May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that reduces the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet.
  • We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, build our Sangha, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.

We should take our time as we eat, chewing each mouthful at least 30 times, until the food becomes liquefied. This aids the digestive process. Let us enjoy every morsel of our food and the presence of the dharma brothers and sisters around us. Let us establish ourselves in the present moment, eating in such a way that solidity, joy and peace be possible during the time of eating.

Eating in silence, the food becomes real with our mindfulness and we are fully aware of its nourishment. In order to deepen our practice of mindful eating and support the peaceful atmosphere, we remain seated during this silent period. After twenty minutes of silent eating, two sounds of the bell will be invited. We may then start a mindful conversation with our friend or begin to get up from the table.

Upon finishing our meal, we take a few moments to notice that we have finished, our bowl is now empty and our hunger is satisfied. Gratitude fills us as we realize how fortunate we are to have had this nourishing food to eat, supporting us on the path of love and understanding.

http://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/eating-together/

Photo courtesy of Paul Davis CHÂN PHÚC ĐƯỜNG (True Hall of Merits)
Thay at Tue Hue Pagoda 2008
Photo courtesy of Paul Davis CHÂN PHÚC ĐƯỜNG (True Hall of Merits)

Spring Opening Retreat Offering 

The time was approaching for me to leave home and go to the Second Spring Opening Retreat, ‘Nourishing our Beloved Community’.  ‘Ah, I can’t wait for some spiritual nourishment,’ I thought.

As the time came even closer I seemed to be even busier than usual and all I could think about was getting to the retreat to STOP. I got to the airport on Thursday night, in plenty of time for my flight. ‘Great,’ I thought, ‘I can just STOP.’ But I just kept working, sending emails, attending to last minute things. Arrived in Melbourne, it was late and I was tired. As I lugged my suitcase to the hotel all I could think about was flopping on the bed and resting. But, in a sort of distracted state, I stayed up fiddling around until after midnight!  When I saw that it was so late I took myself in hand, told myself I needed to sleep and turned off the light. As I drifted off to sleep I thought, ‘Now I can STOP.'

Next day I woke early and spent the morning wandering around for a while and then working. It was quite a lovely day, but I didn’t really pay it much attention as I did this and that on my computer. Then on the train to Beaufort, I told myself, ‘Now I will really STOP.’ But what did I find myself doing? Sending last minute text messages, checking the internet for various things, planning for events way into the future. 

The countryside on the way to Beaufort is quite lovely, but somehow I was not paying attention to it. About thirty minutes out of Beaufort I heard a kind, but insistent voice from my heart that said, ‘Please STOP.’  And finally I did STOP… Slowed my breathing, Took note of what was around me, Observed my thoughts and Pursued the next action in line with my practice – to sit quietly and to breathe and smile. So the last part of the journey was the most enjoyable as I sat there quietly breathing and smiling. Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. 

What a relief and joy to arrive at Cave Hill, to sink into the arms of my beloved Sangha. How happy I was to see my old Sangha friends and meet new friends. Like many people who come to a retreat, the first day I was very tired and felt a little unwell. I have at least learnt to listen to my body and so I nourished it with some rest and quiet time. Then I settled into the rhythm of the retreat – early morning bells to welcome the day, sitting in the meditation hall before dawn, mindful movements, walking meditation, mindful eating. Really, the retreat program is simple – wake up to the sound of the bell, walk, sit, exercise, eat, discuss,  observe Noble Silence, sleep and then do it all again the next day. On retreat I seem more able to wrap all those activities with the wonderful coat of mindfulness and that is truly wonder – full. 

On retreat the conditions offer us a wonderful opportunity to inhabit that mindful space – that’s part of the nourishment which a retreat has to offer. And in that space I was able to take great delight in the children, in the natural environment, in freedom from technology, in sharing and caring and the deep quiet.

I realised that I didn’t need to leave home to find some spiritual nourishment. All I needed to do was to go home to the island of my true self, my breath. But I am very glad I went to the retreat for that reminder and for the many joys of being with the Sangha Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. 

Home at last. 

Julia Byford – True Jewel of Mindfulness

Cave Hill Creek 2015 - photo courtesy Cahn Lac Phan

Sangha Practices

For several years now the Five Mountains Sangha, in Northern New South Wales, has had the practice of ‘Tuesdays with Thay’.

Each month a Sangha member volunteers to find quotes from one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books. Each quote is one that has helped in some way in their daily life. It might have been words to get them thinking of how to apply the teachings, or perhaps the words provided a solution to a problem, or perhaps they gave an ‘aha!’ moment.  

Each Tuesday, for a month, the Sangha member writes a quote and a few sentences about how it is relevant to them. This is then sent via email to other members of the Sangha. It is a simple way to explore the teachings. Here is one offering:

Investigating Phenomena

Today while out walking, I noticed someone had lit a fire. I decided to go and sit and watch the fire burning as a meditation. It was old wood and garden waste.

I thought ‘What exactly is fire?’ as I watched the flames dancing around the wood, and felt the heat coming from it. Some of my high school chemistry came back to help me.

I could see that once fire was introduced, it was fed by the elements in the wood - gases being released by the heat, sap which would have oil in it which would burn, the fibrous material - all producing orange flames, smoke (water and ash?) and ashes.

I looked at the trees around me and thought of how much fire energy is stored up in them. How that energy is created by the growth of the tree from a seed with the help of the sun, the rain, the elements in the soil, not to mention the air, the wind, the rotation of the planet, etc! Talk about interbeing!

And I was reminded of the third of the Four Establishments of Mindfulness which Thay writes about in the chapter ‘Right Mindfulness’ in his book The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching:

The third method the Buddha offered for practising mindfulness of the body in the body is to see the elements it is made of - earth, water, fire and air …  And to meditate on each of these.

Happy practising!

Virginia White
Five Mountains Sangha

Evening Sky, Ararat, Victoria. Photo courtesy Caz Hamilton.
 

Mindfulness Bell Subscriptions

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From the Nhap Luu Sisters

Dear Thay, Dear Sangha,

The Sisters have had a busy Spring quarter. First there was the Spring Opening Retreat, and then the OI retreat which followed immediately after it. Then Sister Thuan Tien and some of the other Sisters were invited to Sydney by the Senbup (Lotus Bud) Sangha. They took part in the annual ceremony for the First Patriarch, Khuong Tang Hoi. Brother Tu Minh, a visiting Brother from Thay's Root Temple, Tue Hue, accompanied them. You can see him here, visiting Nhap Luu, standing outside the newly named ‘Earth Refreshing’ Meditation Hall. During this period the builders also commenced the toilet block at the Hall. 

We celebrated Thay's Continuation Day with a special Tea Ceremony. The Sisters prepared a very touching photographic slide show showing Thay's life.  

Sangha member Diem (Hanh Luu) arranged through a friend for the road coming in from Marias' Lane, and all the internal Nhap Luu roads including the large carpark, to be graded, and then to have gravel laid. They are like new. Wonderful! A big thank you goes to both Diem and her colleague Uncle Tuyen who, with some others, came for three consecutive days with a grader to do the initial work. They then spent another two days spreading the gravel. The entire grading operation was donated to us. Nhap Luu only needed to pay for the gravel itself and the labour, but not for the equipment. The cost for that ($10,000) was donated by some Sangha members. 

About two years ago long time Sangha member Co Lai, offered us a 12 seater van so that the whole Sangha would be able to travel together, and also so that visitors can easily be picked up from the station, or from Melbourne. She made sufficient money ($15,000) available, gradually, and we now have a 12 seater minibus for those functions. We are very grateful to her. All the Nhap Luu Sisters have become keen to learn to drive, and they ALL have their L plates right now.

On November 17th, Sister Tinh Quang and Sister Tuu Nghiem facilitated a Day of Mindfulness in Melbourne, for 70 plus Vietnamese speakers. They were all new to our practice. The Sisters felt that they practised wholeheartedly, and also listened deeply when Sister Tinh Quang  gave the Dharma Talk about her monastic life and experiences. They deeply enjoyed the Total Relaxation and the Dharma Sharing. Another similar event is planned for February in the new year, and also a similar day of Mindfulness in Melbourne for the English Speaking public, a little later.

Currently also a lot of work is being done on preparing a Bush Fire Emergency Plan submission for the Country Fire Authority to approve. This is a prerequisite to being able to apply for  planning and then building permits. 

A big thank you also goes to those Sangha members who have already made either their pledge, or actual donations of funds to the building campaign, There will soon be regular  progress reports to see on the website www.nhapluu.org.

We also recently received the good news that our Aspirant Monk has been ordained as a novice. On 1st December he became Chan Troi Dao Quy.  

We wish you all a safe and peaceful holiday, and hope to see many of you here, at Nhap Luu, to welcome in the New Year. If you want to stay a night, let us know.

The Sisters at Nhap Luu. 

 

New Year at Nhap Luu

New Year's Eve At Nhap Luu (Thursday 31.12. 2015)

16:00  Live Dharma Talk
18:00  Happy Dinner
19:30  Walking Meditation
20:30  Be-in Performance
22:00  Total Relaxation
23:30  Sitting Meditation
New Year's Eve Ceremony

 

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.
     
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