Stream Entering Meditation Centre – Winter 2016 Newsletter 
Plum Village Australia
Unified Buddhist Church - Australia
 

From the editors

Dear Thay, Dear Sangha and friends,

Before going too much further, we would like to introduce you to something very useful about Nhap Luu News. It is our index, called ‘In This Edition’ which always comes near the top, and immediately after the editorial.  If, when you open your newsletter email you then select (click on) “view this email in your browser” on the top right corner, you will then find that the index becomes useful not only because it conveys what we have to share, and the sequence of articles, but also because each listed item acts as a hyperlink. This means that if someone prefers a certain type of article they can go straight there just by clicking on the listed items in question. It is also useful if you have already read the whole newsletter and want to revisit just one article. We hope it is making the whole newsletter experience very easy and pleasurable for all. 

As always, we bring you coverage of the last quarter from the perspective of our monastics in ‘From the Sisters’. Also, this coming September sees the third annual Plum Village Australia Spring Opening Retreat, so we have news on how to register with links to find out about our 50th Anniversary Order of Interbeing retreat. This will take place immediately after the Spring Opening. With a way still to go to in our fundraising efforts to build stage one of the Meditation Centre project, there's also a short ‘Fundraising Bright Ideas’ update to stimulate more sangha activity and understanding in that direction..

We continue as promised with the second part of the four part bi-lingual series ‘I'm in Love With Mother Earth’. We understand that for some of our readership the responsibilities we shed light on in this series may be already very thoroughly internalised. For others though, peer group and other social factors have not been so kind in helping them to look deeply at what it means to actually live their love for Mother Earth on a daily basis. So this quarter, we offer the chance to learn a little more about our use of plastic, and about some choices that are kind to living beings rather than just convenient for ourselves when we do our personal and household shopping.

In addition we commence a new series on the Six Paramitas, featuring this time the first paramita, dana or generosity and giving. The Buddha taught that to cross over to the other shore of peace, non- fear, and liberation from the shore of suffering, anger and depression we have to actively do something. That effort is the practice of the Six Paramitas (TNH, ‘The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching’). The first of these efforts, dana paramita or generosity, is the practice of love and of letting go. It is the opposite of clinging, grasping, and greed. So maybe there are elements of dana to be found in making choices like those that are mentioned in ‘I’m in Love with Mother Earth’ when we simply decide to let go of self-focused habits of thinking and consumption in favour of new ones that may bring benefit to many others.

Actually, we can probably imagine many ways to practice generosity, and wonderfully, it is quite easy to cultivate it within our ordinary daily life just as much as it is by stepping outside of those boundaries and extending ourselves further. For many practitioners for whom improving the practice of simple living comes high on their agenda, together with trying not to hold on to more than seems to be one's fair ‘share’, the practice of dana can be expressed in terms of giving energy, time, and skills with an open heart wherever possible as much as through being generous with actual money. How we choose to practice dana can be very individual. What matters is that we recognise the need to cultivate in ourselves the desire and willingness to give out to others, rather than to hold on for self.

There are probably at least three different sections of this newsletter in which seeds are sown that could in fact help deepen our own practice of generosity. We also have direct and very wonderful teachings here, from Thay and from Dharma Teacher Larry Ward on this subject; and one of our own local dharma brothers has also been willing to share his experience with the practice of dana. We hope you will enjoy these teachings.

For the September edition we would be very pleased to receive personal contributions around your practice of the second paramita, Shila, or Mindfulness Trainings. We will also continue with the third section of ‘I’m in Love with Mother Earth’ and we hope to have some sharing from participants at the Spring Retreat.  

Guidelines for contributions to Nhap Luu News are available in the section ‘Got Something To Share?’

Susan Wirawan. 
Chân Nguyện Lưu
(True Stream of Aspiration)​
For the Newsletter Team.

Bản tin tháng Sáu: Thư ngỏ

Kính thưa Sư Ông, thưa Đại Chúng.

Đầu tiên, Ban Biên Tập xin giới thiệu cùng quý vị một tính năng mới của bản tin Nhập Lưu. Như quý vị đã biết, trong mỗi bản tin, ngay sau phần thư ngỏ là phần mục lục (In This Issue), liệt kê danh mục cách bài viết theo thứ tự, cùng với đường dẫn. Để đọc một bài viết, quý vị chỉ cần nhấn vào tựa đề tương ứng trong phần mục lục. Tính năng này cũng rất tiện dụng nếu quý vị đã đọc xong toàn văn bản tin và muốn tìm lại một bài viết nào đó. Chúng tôi hy vọng tính năng mới này sẽ giúp quá trình đọc tin của quý vị trở nên dễ dàng và mau chóng hơn.

Trong bản tin này, chúng tôi đem đến cho quý vị phần cuối cùng trong loạt bài viết do các Sư Cô, Sư Chị chấp bút. Bên cạnh đó là thông tin về khoá tu Đường Về Núi Thứu nhân kỷ niệm 50 năm thành lập Dòng tu Tiếp Hiện, sẽ diễn ra ngay sau khoá thiền mùa xuân năm nay. Dự án gây quỹ xây dựng thiền viện Nhập Lưu cũng sẽ tiếp tục được cập nhật, bao gồm các đóng góp của tăng đoàn và định hướng của dự án.

Tiếp tục với phần hai của loạt bài song ngữ “Con kính yêu Đất Mẹ”, chúng tôi hiểu rằng với một số độc giả, những vấn đề được đưa ra bàn thảo đã rất quen thuộc; nhưng với nhiều độc giả khác, cộng đồng và môi trường sống của họ có thể không mấy quan tâm tới việc kết nối với Đất Mẹ trong cuộc sống hàng ngày. Vì vậy, trong ấn bản này, chúng tôi sẽ trao cho quý vị cơ hội để tìm hiểu về cách sử dụng túi nhựa, cùng một số lựa chọn mua sắm đem lại lợi lạc cho chúng sinh thay vì nhu cầu bản thân đơn thuần.

Đồng thời, chúng tôi bắt đầu loạt bài về lục độ ba la mật, mở đầu với pháp bố thí (dana). Đức Thế Tôn dạy rằng, muốn xa lìa bờ ghen tỵ, kỳ thị, hận thù và sầu khổ để tới bờ của an lạc, hạnh phúc và thảnh thơi, chúng ta phải thực hành một cách chuyên cần. “Đó là lục độ ba la mật” (Thích Nhất Hạnh, “Trái tim của Bụt”). Ba la mật đầu tiên, dana hay bố thí, là phép thực tập yêu thương và buông bỏ. Đây là sự đối lập với cố thủ, bám chấp và tham lam. Một số yếu tố của bố thí đã được bao hàm trong các gợi ý từ mục “Chúng con kính yêu Đất Mẹ”, khi chúng ta từ bỏ những thói quen vị kỷ trong suy nghĩ và tiêu dùng, và thay bằng những lựa chọn vị tha hơn.

Quả thật, có rất nhiều cơ hội để thực tập phép bố thí, và điều tuyệt vời là chúng ta có thể nuôi dưỡng lòng hào phóng ngay trong cuộc sống hàng ngày, chỉ bằng cách loại bỏ một vài thói quen xấu và bước ra khỏi vùng an toàn của bản thân. Với những người muốn thực tập sống đơn giản, bên cạnh việc không mua sắm vượt quá nhu cầu bản thân, bố thí có thể được thực hiện thông qua việc đóng góp công sức, thời gian và kỹ năng bất cứ khi nào có thể, chứ không chỉ gói gọn trong tài thí. Lựa chọn cách thức bố thí như thế nào hoàn toàn là quyết định của bản thân. Điều quan trọng là chúng ta nhận thức được tầm quan trọng của việc phát triển lòng vị tha và chia sẻ, thay vì chỉ quan tâm đến bản thân. 

Ít nhất ba phần khác nhau trong bản tin này đã gieo sẵn những hạt giống giúp phát triển phép bố thí. Chúng tôi cũng có những bài giảng tuyệt vời từ Sư Ông và giảng sư Larry Ward về chủ đề này, và một trong những đạo hữu địa phương đã vui lòng chia sẻ kinh nghiệm của ông về việc thực tập bố thí. Chúng tôi hy vọng quý vị sẽ thích những bài giảng này.

Để chuẩn bị cho bản tin tháng Chín, chúng tôi kính mời quý độc giả chia sẻ kinh nghiệm bản thân về pháp ba la mật hai, shila, hay trì giới. Chúng tôi cũng sẽ tiếp tục với phần ba của loạt bài “Con kính yêu Đất Mẹ”, cùng một số chia sẻ từ những thành viên tham dự khoá thiền mùa xuân.

Hướng dẫn cách gửi bài cho bản tin Nhập Lưu có thể được tìm thấy ở mục “Ý Kiến Bạn Đọc” (“Got Something to Share?”). 

Susan Wirawan 
Chân Nguyện Lưu
(True Stream of Aspiration)​
Từ Ban Biên Tập.


Newsletter Team
Editor: Susan Wirawan, Chân Nguyện Lưu (True Stream of Aspiration)
Editing: Helen Snowden (True Ocean of Light) 
Layout: Leonie Clark
Translation: Lê Đỗ Đăng Trình (Trinh) and Trần Thị Thanh Quý (Angela)

 

IN THIS ISSUE

 

Spring Opening Retreat - September 2016


Registrations now open, exclusively online, at www.nhapluu.org
 

We are pleased to invite you to register for the third annual Plum Village Australia Spring Opening Retreat, ‘Joyfully Together’. The main retreat will be followed by a two-day Order of Interbeing Retreat. The details and registration forms for both retreats are available, online, at www.nhapluu.org.All enquiries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
*Camping bookings  for Spring Opening will be made available once we have filled all  beds, so please register your desire to be informed at that time, by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
 
Walking meditation in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Paul Davis CHÂN PHÚC ĐƯỜNG True Hall of Merits.

I'm In Love With Mother Earth

When we decide to make any of the changes talked about in this section, we know we are significantly reducing our personal *carbon footprint, through aspiring to practise the Mindfulness Trainings just a little more deeply. 

CARBON FOOTPRINT is the total sets of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product or individual. 

GREENHOUSE GAS -any of various gaseous compounds (such as carbon dioxide, and methane) that absorb infrared radiation (IR) and radiate the heat in all directions.  Greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere, absorb infrared radiation (IR)  from the sun and release it to be trapped in the atmosphere.  This contributes to the greenhouse effect, or “global warming.”

 


Khi chúng ta quyết định thực hiện những thay đổi như đã nêu trong chuyên mục này, chúng ta biết rằng mình đang giảm thiểu lượng khí thải các-bon của bản thân một cách đáng kể.   

LƯỢNG KHÍ THẢI CÁC-BON là tổng lượng khí thải nhà kính từ một tổ chức, sự kiện, sản phẩm hoặc cá nhân.

*KHÍ THẢI NHÀ KÍNH- là các loại hỗn hợp khí (chẳng hạn như khí các-bô-níc hay khí mê-tan) hấp thụ bức xạ hồng ngoại (IR) và toả bức xạ nhiệt ra ngoài theo mọi hướng. Khí thải nhà kính trong bầu khí quyển trái đất hấp thụ bức xạ hồng ngoại (IR) từ mặt trời và giữ lại lượng bức xạ này trong bầu khí quyển.  Hiện tượng này góp phần tạo ra hiệu ứng nhà kính, còn gọi là “sự nóng dần lên của trái đất”.
 


English version:

Choose biodegradable cleaning products, that are also plant-based and cruelty-free. 

Where and when could we do this? At home, at practice centres, for all retreats, in the office.

Why should we do it? Most commercial soaps, detergents, and cleaning products contain toxic chemicals which can cause serious problems to our health, and to the health of the environment. If they end up in waterways, these products create pollution and directly harm the aquatic life. They also cannot be allowed on gardens, where they can be harmful to plant life. This is because some of these chemicals do not break down at all, or else they take a very long time to do so and cause harm. Meanwhile, they break down into parts that remain toxic and hazardous.

Many cleaning products and soaps also contain sodium tallowate- which is usually derived from beef fat. Many others list sodium stearate or stearic acid, an ingredient which might be from either a vegetable or animal source- but we cannt know. This means that our favourite bath soap may also be a by-product of cruel and unnecessary animal slaughter. Most popular cleaning products are laboratory tested on animals too, and  this always involves a lot of suffering for the animals concerned. 

Fortunately many biodegradable cleaning products are now available. They are made from ingredients which will not pollute and damage the environment because they are able to be broken down easily by naturally occurring bacteria into harmless by-products. When we choose these products we need to check that the label says ’plant-based’, ‘vegan’, ‘contains no animal derivatives’, ‘not tested on animals’ etc as well, and then we also know that no unnecessary pain and suffering has been caused to sentient beings. 

Most such products are low cost, as well as being effective cleansers. They are easily and inexpensively available in all major supermarkets, as well as in specialty stores.

* Footnote: Many ‘standard’ cleaning products also contain chemicals that are at least suspected of interfering with the hormone system in mammals. In this way, they can contribute to cancerous tumours, birth defects, and other developmental problems. Also, when we wash our car, dog, house or driveway, it is important to make sure that even quality detergents are used, they do not leave our property. When detergents reach the street, they easily get into the storm water drains and from there into the nearest river or creek. Even environmentally friendly detergents are not meant to be in our rivers and streams. They also become pollutants when they encourage bacterial growth and loss of oxygen in the waterways. See here for more: http://theconversation.com/environmentally-friendly-pollutants-what-your-detergent-does-to-waterways-6048
 

Avoid purchasing disposable plastic (or even paper) items like cups or  plates, and avoid using plastic bags for shopping. 

When and where could we do this? At home, for events, parties, picnics, Days of Mindfulness, and Retreats. At our Practice Centres.

Why should we do it? Plastic bags, cups or plates require a lot of resources like water, energy and fossil fuels to produce, and those natural resources are not going to last indefinitely. Some plastics (including plastic bags) cannot be recycled at all (check for the” recyclable” symbol on their base), and even when they can be, it still requires even more energy and water to actually recycle them. Paper cups and plates unnecessarily help to destroy forests, anyway.

If not disposed of properly, plastic waste also pollutes our environment and harms wildlife. In fact plastic waste is the scourge of our oceans, killing the wildlife that ingests it, and washing up on and littering our beaches. See:theconversation.com/eight-million-tonnes-of-plastic-are-going-into-the-ocean-each-year-37521 Non- recyclable plastic, in landfill, does not decompose and go back to the soil.

So it is wise to reduce our use of plastics or avoid them altogether. By using durable and reusable cups and plates (made of porcelain, ceramic, glass, etc) and durable bags (made of cloth, cotton or other types of fabric), we can reduce our negative impact on the environment. These choices are also more cost effective for everyone, in the long term, because we do not repeatedly need to buy the items.
 


Vietnamese version:

Chọn lựa các sản phẩm tẩy rửa có khả năng tự huỷ sinh học (biodegradable), có nguồn gốc thực vật, và không qua thí nghiệm trên động vật.

Chúng ta có thể thực hiện ở đâu và khi nào? Tại nhà, văn phòng, thiền viện và các khoá tu.

Vì sao chúng ta nên làm điều đó? Hầu hết các loại xà phòng, nước tẩy rửa và dung dịch vệ sinh trên thị trường đều chứa một số hoá chất có hại cho sức khoẻ của bạn và môi trường. Khi thải ra nguồn nước, chúng gây ô nhiễm và làm phương hại đến các loài thuỷ sinh. Các loại sản phẩm này cũng không nên dùng để tưới vườn, bởi chúng cũng có hại cho cây trồng. Đó là bởi một số hoá chất không có khả năng phân huỷ, hoặc chỉ phân huỷ sau khi gây hại trong một thời gian dài, hoặc thậm chí sau khi phân huỷ vẫn để lại những thành phần độc hại.

Nhiều dung dịch tẩy rửa và xà phòng chứa sodium tallowate có nguồn gốc từ mỡ bò. Một số khác lại chứa sodium stearate hoặc stearic acid, có thể được chiết xuất từ cả thực vật lẫn động vật, chúng ta không biết được. Điều đó có nghĩa là bánh xà phòng yêu thích của chúng ta có thể bắt nguồn từ việc sát hại động vật. Hầu hết các sản phẩm vệ sinh phổ biến đều được thí nghiệm trên động vật, gây rất nhiều đau khổ cho chúng.

May mắn thay, trên thị trường hiện có những sản phẩm vệ sinh tự huỷ sinh học, được làm từ các nguyên liệu không gây ô nhiễm và không huỷ hoại môi trường, bởi chúng có thể được phân huỷ dễ dàng bởi vi khuẩn trong tự nhiên thành những thành phần vô hại. Hãy chọn mua những sản phẩm có dán nhãn “nguồn gốc thực vật”, “thuần chay”, “không chứa các dẫn xuất của động vật”, “không được thí nghiệm trên động vật”… để chắc chắn rằng không chúng sinh nào phải chịu đau khổ trong quá trình sản xuất ra chúng.

Hầu hết các sản phẩm này đều có giá thành sản xuất thấp và làm sạch rất hiệu quả. Bạn có thể dễ dàng tìm mua chúng với giá phải chăng tại các siêu thị lớn, tiệm chạp phô và cửa hàng mỹ phẩm.

* Chú thích: Nhiều sản phẩm vệ sinh “tiêu chuẩn” vẫn chứa các hoá chất bị nghi ngờ can thiệp vào hệ thống nội tiết tố ở động vật hữu nhũ. Do đó, chúng có thể góp phần gây ung thư, dị tật bẩm sinh, và các tật bệnh khác. Ngoài ra, khi bạn rửa xe, tắm rửa thú nuôi, lau nhà hoặc chà sân, đừng nên để nước xả tràn ra đường, ngay cả khi bạn sử dụng chất tẩy rửa chất lượng như đã kể trên, bởi chúng có thể chảy vào đường ống thoát nước và đổ ra sông rạch gần đó. Ngay cả những chất tẩy rửa “thân thiện với môi trường” cũng có thể gây ô nhiễm, bởi chúng kích thích vi khuẩn phát triển và gây yếm khí sông hồ. Tìm hiểu thêm tại đây: http://theconversation.com/environmentally-friendly-pollutants-what-your-detergent-does-to-waterways-6048 

Tránh mua các mặt hàng như ly nhựa, đĩa nhựa xài một lần (hoặc thậm chí ly giấy, đĩa giấy), và hạn chế sử dụng túi nylon khi mua sắm.

Chúng ta có thể thực hiện ở đâu và khi nào? Tại nhà, thiền viện, những buổi dã ngoại, họp mặt, sự kiện, ngày Chánh Niệm và các khoá tu.

Vì sao chúng ta nên làm điều đó? Quy trình sản xuất túi, ly và đĩa nhựa sử dụng rất nhiều tài nguyên như nước, năng lượng và nhiên liệu hoá thạch, mà những tài nguyên này không phải là vô tận. Một số chất nhựa dẻo (bao gồm túi nylon) không thể được tái chế (xem biểu tượng “tái chế” trên nhãn mác), hoặc tốn rất nhiều năng lượng và nước để tái chế. Bên cạnh đó, ly và đĩa giấy góp phần đẩy nhanh nạn phá rừng.

Nếu không được xử lý đúng cách, chất thải nhựa cũng gây ô nhiễm môi trường và gây hại đến thiên nhiên hoang dã. Trong thực tế, chất thải nhựa là tác nhân dẫn đến ô nhiễm đại dương, gây tử vong các con vật nuốt phải nó, và khiến cho các bãi biển ngập rác. Tìm hiểu thêm tại: theconversation.com/eight-million-tonnes-of-plastic-are-going-into-the-ocean-each-year-37521. Tại các bãi rác, những chất thải nhựa không thể tái chế sẽ không thể tự phân huỷ vào lòng đất được.

Vì thế, chúng ta nên hạn chế sử dụng đồ nhựa hoặc tránh sử dụng hoàn toàn.Bằng cách sử dụng ly và đĩa từ những vật liệu bền và có thể tái sử dụng (gốm, sứ, thuỷ tinh v.v…) và các loại túi xài nhiều lần (vải, sợi bông, sợi tổng hợpv.v…) bạn có thể góp phần giảm những tác động tiêu cực đến môi trường. Những lựa chọn này cũng giúp cắt giảm chi phí về lâu dài, vì bạn không phải mua lại nhiều lần.

Thanks again go to our environmentalist Esther Alloun (Caring Equanimity of the Heart), and translators DangTrinh Le and (Angela) Thanh Quy Tran Thi  

Vesak Day procession from the Meditation Hall to Full Moon Lake, Nhap Luu Meditation Centre
May 22nd, 2016.
 
 

From The Sisters

Since we last wrote for you about our activities, the Sisters have had an event-filled quarter. It began with the small retreat season, from the end of March and into April. There was a retreat in Sydney, and also at Nhap Luu in Victoria. At the Nhap Luu retreat the attendance was good, about 40 people in total, and everything was organised by our three younger sisters, Sister Phat Nghiem, Sister Trang Song Hong, and Sister Trang Thuong Tru. To organise and facilitate a whole retreat like this was a first time experience for them, let alone with the additional challenge of working in English. The result was excellent. There were many days of work beforehand to prepare flat ground for the campers’ tents, as well as preparing accommodation for others in Peace House and the hut. But the Sisters enjoyed it all. They say that working in Sisterhood and happily, their tiredness was minimal. On the last day of the Retreat, ten practitioners took the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

After all the preparation it was wonderful to see that while some people might have arrived feeling a little tired, or pre-occupied with some personal problem, by the end of their time with us their faces showed a relaxed happiness. For the Sisters, experiencing this was like receiving a gift.The Sydney and Brisbane retreats were just as successful, and in both the Fourfold Sangha worked together with lay Dharma Teachers Chu Khoi, Tony Mills, John Barclay and Jenny Pittman working with Sister Thuan Tien to variously offer or take part in Orientation, Beginning Anew presentations, Dharma Talks, and Question and Answer sessions.  About 70 lay members attended in Sydney and 60 in Brisbane.\

After a short few days’ rest, the Sisters continued with their normal practice routine which always includes facilitating Days of Mindfulness for the public at the Meditation Centre, and this time also included facilitating a public Day of Mindfulness in Melbourne.

 After preparing for and enjoying the Buddhas' Birthday (Vesak) ceremony at Nhap Luu on May 22nd, the Sisters then officially commenced their own three month Winter Retreat which ends on 20th August. During this time the Sisters will stay in the Monastery most of the time, only leaving the property for really urgent matters, and living by their own specific Retreat schedule. For example early in the Retreat two Sisters left to help facilitate the celebration of the Buddha’s birthday at a Lotus Bud, Sydney, member’s home with the Vietnamese community.

As it was in the time of the Buddha, this three month retreat is a time for the monastics to study more, and to come back to themselves deeply. However, the public is still welcome to visit, and  every Saturday will remain a  Working Bee day  as usual. The Sisters will be extremely grateful of your donation of time and energy to help them prepare for the hot dry summer to come.

For most of the Sisters this is their first Australian winter. They are finding it a quite amazing time, for the first time experiencing frost on the grass, or ice on the windscreens of cars at dawn. The temperature in general, and the numbers of layers of clothing they need to put on at once to keep warm, are remarkable to them. But they are still smiling as they collect firewood for the pot-belly stoves, as they begin to think ahead a little to the Spring Opening Retreat, and as they cultivate themselves more deeply in the Practice.


Vesak Day celebration with the Lotus Buds' Sangha (Sydney) enjoying the lovely garden and meditation hall at Vinh and Phượng's house

In The Footsteps of the Buddha?

If there is sufficient interest from the community, the Sisters are considering arranging a “ Footsteps of the Buddha “ tour in north India, led by Dharma Teacher Shantum Seth. It would take place in October 2017.  

Although not a fundraising event,  the tour would be priced to ensure that for every five lay participants, one Sister could be assured of  a return plane flight. The Indian sangha is willing to cover on land costs for Monastics.

If you could be interested in taking part, or want more detail, please email us at  our new email address, of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dharma Talks

Introducing the Six Paramitas

‘Before our airplane takes off, we are told the way to use the oxygen mask. And we are always told that we have to put on the oxygen mask for ourselves first, and only then can we place the oxygen mask on our child, the young person sitting next to us. If we are not successful in placing the mask on ourselves first, and afterwards on our child, then we will both die for lack of oxygen.

In Buddhism it’s the same. We have to help ourselves before we can help others. The word we use to speak of this is the word meaning ‘to cross over to the other shore’. The shore over here is the shore of suffering, the shore of anger, of anxiety, of pain. But the shore over there is the shore of peace, of freedom. To go from this shore to the other shore is called ‘paramita’. There are six ways of doing that called the six paramitas, six ways of going to the other shore.’

Thay at Tu Hue Pagoda, his root temple, in Vietnam 2008 photo courtesy Paul Davis CHÂN PHÚC ĐƯỜNG True Hall of Merits
 

‘The Buddha said, “Don’t just hope for the other shore to come to you. If you want to cross over to the other shore, the shore of safety, well-being, non- fear, and non-anger, you have to swim or row across. You have to make an effort.” This effort is the Six Paramitas”. 

The Six Paramitas 

1.  Dana paramita – giving, offering, generosity

2. Shila paramita – precepts or mindfulness trainings

3. Kshanti paramita – inclusiveness, the capacity to receive, bear, and transform the pain inflicted on you by your enemies and also by those who love you

4. Virya paramita- diligence, energy, perseverance

5. Dhyana paramita- meditation

6. Prajna paramita – wisdom, insight, understanding

(Excerpt from Nhat Hanh 1998, ‘The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching’, Chapter 25: The Six Paramitas)

The First Paramita: Dana - giving, offering, generosity

The training every bodhisattva has had for over two thousand years is training in six things, and it’s the same training the Buddha had when he was a bodhisattva-in-training. These six things are called the paramitas. They are practices that take us from the shore of fear to the shore of non-fear. From the shore of greed to the shore of non-greed. From the shore of hate to the shore of non-hate.

The first one of these practices is generosity. First, it means learning to give physical things we have without reluctance. Sharing. Basic kindergarten kinds of issues: ‘I have a cookie, and you don’t have one. What do we do now?”  Generosity. We have to train ourselves. Even though the impulse is deep inside of us, buried in ourselves, to share and to give, we are so quickly trained out of it by our society, by our culture. This is not just our culture, it’s every culture: “Don’t you do that, don’t give them your cookie.” Why? Because they may come back tomorrow for another one. We have tremendous rationales for cutting off and killing our true human being. Generosity: giving without apprehension, giving without fear.

There’s a great story about the Buddha’s generosity. The Buddha and his cousin Ananda were out for a stroll, and a man came up, bowed and said, “Dear sage, my mother has a medical emergency, and in order for her to be healed she needs another eye.” So the Buddha took his eye out and gave it to the man. The man took the eye from the Buddha, threw it in the dust and stomped on it. And while he was stomping on it, Ananda said, “Hey, wait a minute!” But the Buddha said, “Ananda, the gift has already been given.”

Generosity. The practice of generosity is the practice of giving. For most of us, if people don’t do what we want with our gift we’re upset. That is the practice of non-generosity. When a gift has been given, it’s no longer yours, it’s no longer mine. And of course, there is no greater thing a person can do for their friends than to lay down their life, as Jesus reminds us. And the laying down of your life could be something as dramatic as martyrdom, but it could also be something as undramatic as going to a classroom full of children every day for forty years. It could be as mundane as going through your social work files for the thousandth time and not giving up on yourself and not giving up on humanity. It could be the fifty-fifth conversation with your daughter about the same thing, and you know you’ll do number fifty-six, you won’t withhold that from her. Generosity.

We train ourselves so well that eventually our generosity becomes like the Buddha’s. It’s spontaneous – sure, here’s my eye. But for most of us now we have to think about the cookie—the eye’s a long way off! And that’s the purpose of the training. The training takes us on a journey from the cookie to the eye. And we don’t get there without training. I know how hard that is for Americans who want things fast. It takes practice. It takes training. It takes time.”

(Re-printed with the kind permission of the editors of ‘The Mindfulness Bell’ magazine, from issue #36 Summer 2004#. 

This is part of a Dharma talk given by Dharma Teacher Larry Ward (True Great Sound) who received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh in 2001)


Picture by Paul Davis CHÂN PHÚC ĐƯỜNG True Hall of Merits

“The first practice of crossing over is the perfection of giving, dana paramita.To give means first of all to offer joy, happiness, and love. There is a plant, well known in Asia- it is a member of the onion family, and it is delicious in soup, fried rice, and omelettes- that grows back in less than twenty four hours every time you cut it. And the more you cut it the bigger and stronger it grows. This plant represents dana paramita. We don't keep anything for ourselves. We only want to give. When we give, the other person might become happy, but it is certain that we become happy. In many stories of the Buddha's former lives he practises dana paramita.”  

TNH “ The Heart of the Buddhas' Teaching”

Walking Meditation - Melbourne Public Day of Mindfulness, May 15th 2016   
Photo courtesy Hang Nhan ("Compassionate Eyes of the Heart ")

Dharma Sharing

Practising with the Dana Paramita

Have you ever heard the saying ‘The more you give, the more you get?’ Initially this paradox was meaningless to me because I didn't have much experience in the practice of giving (dana).

Over the years working as a volunteer, making regular donations and practising mindfulness more often, this expression began to make more sense to me. I realised that the one who gives also receives and the one who receives simultaneously gives too. In a way this has helped me to understand the nature of interbeing. For example, when I give a sangha member a lift homeI receive happiness in return (that is, I feel happy). Likewise, when the sangha member gets a lift, he or she actually gives me an opportunity to serve and usually gives me a big thank you as well.

Have you ever pondered why the Buddha and the monastics went out every day to receive food from the lay people? I believe they were giving people opportunities to practise dana.

From my limited practice of dana in recent years, I have received a lot of benefits in return. Some of these benefits have not manifested until years later. For example, during my experience as a volunteer in a temple, I was once asked to clean toilets. For some unknown reason, I was quite happy to do the ‘dirty job’ even though I was a professional engineer and a team leader in my full-time career. I was asked to sweep the floor in another temple and I was also happy to fulfil that duty. So, what did I get in return? Well, nothing much at the time except perhaps a brief thank you.

A few years later, under the most unexpected conditions, one of the benefits of cleaning toilets and sweeping became clear. I had been feeling busy and stressed at work and had not found time to continue as a volunteer for a while. I was complaining about my heavy office workload and unreasonable deadlines. I was depressed. Fortunately, some questions popped into my mind. ‘Why were you happy to clean toilets and sweep the floor without payment? And now you are complaining about working as a well-paid professional?’

After a long silent contemplation, I was convinced that my depression was irrational. Hence, I gradually appreciated the many positive benefits of my job, rather than just focusing on the negative. With hindsight, I can now see that the practice of dana is like sowing seeds of goodness. Some seeds transform into flowers within weeks. Other seeds may not manifest into fruits for a long time. Of course, the outcome also depends on many other conditions such as sunlight, rainwater and stinking fertiliser. (I see pressure in life as a stinking fertiliser. It is not pleasant to have, but it is essential for growth).

So, in my mind it is true that the more you give, the more you get. I have also learnt that when giving with an expectation to get something in return, disappointment is sure to follow. 

There are many opportunities to be generous in daily life such as giving a smile to people we meet, offering a seat to elderly people on a tram, giving way to children crossing a road, and offering kind words, especially to people whose  own words are not so kind, to encourage peace in the world. Of course, the practice of generosity also includes giving other things such as food, useful ideas, money or service to the community. 

One thing I find most challenging in the practice of dana is to know when and how to give. A combination of intuition, experience and wisdom seem to be required. Metaphorically speaking, suppose I have a small bowl of rice and there are many people dying of hunger. What should I do? Do I divide the rice into tiny portions and share them equally? Do I give the whole bowl of rice to a pregnant woman or to a father or to some children? Do I keep the bowl of rice for myself so that I can help others in a different way? There is no simple answer as it depends on the situation and so many different conditions. 

Apart from wisdom, emotional capacity is also a prerequisite for the practice of dana. For instance, I find it very hard to give a warm smile when my energy level is low or I am feeling grumpy. In my experience, developing an awareness of the myriad of conditions or my happiness, brings me a sense of abundance. The practice of mindful breathing helps to calm my body and mind. Consequently, with abundance and calmness, my capacity to give increases.

Describing the wonderful fruits of dana is as difficult as trying to describe the taste of a custard apple. Therefore, if my sharing does not inspire you to practise dana, please do not dismiss it all together, just remember ‘the more you give, the more you get’.

(Simon Du, Harmonious Strength of the Heart (Tâm Hòa Lực) practises with Birrarung Sangha in Melbourne.

‘Tuesdays with Thay’

Yesterday was a challenging day for me. We all have them! I drove from Federal to Ballina (about 45 minutes’ drive) thinking my specialist’s appointment was there. However, once I arrived at the clinic, the staff told me to go to Lismore (another 35 minutes away). The traffic was busy and I ended up driving by a longer route. 

I knew my time was limited due to the specialist needing to go to theatre. When I eventually saw him, the specialist informed me that I actually needed to see another specialist that day at the Gold Coast Hospital (at least 50 minutes away). My phone was out of charge by the time I arrived at the Gold Coast and I had no directions how to get to the new hospital. A truck driver kindly led me there.  

Through the concerns of home life, my medical condition (which is really only minor), and everything else that had just happened, I felt the need to pull over onto the side of the road for some guidance. In Thay's book ‘How to Relax’ I again read these words:

In, Out.

Deep, Slow.

Calm, Ease.

Smile, Release.

Present Moment, Wonderful Moment

So rather than continuing to ruminate on the ‘stressors’ of my life, I found focusing on the words ‘In, Out’ helped me to empty my mind of negative thinking, and of thinking in general. With each breath, I managed to calm the monkey mind, and rest it through the remainder of the day. 

Smiles for you,
Sandy Chalk
(Joyful Light of the Heart)

(Sandy practices with the Five Mountains Sangha in Northern NSW. They have been enjoying ‘Tuesdays With Thay’ as a Dharma Sharing practice for some years now, as described in earlier newsletters.)
 

Birrarung Sangha friends- at Nhap Luu April retreat 2016.

Building Fund Update: Building progress and Building fund donations


Bright ideas. Building progress.

Raising enough funds to guarantee that we can complete the first stage of our building project remains a  high priority.  At the moment, we have $ 200,000.00 raised and some promises. But we need to get closer to the basic target of $270.000.00 before we will be able to bring you any news of work actually starting.

Your bright ideas, initiative,and personal generosity Australia wide are what will get us there. One bright fundraising idea from a Sangha member is seen  below at the Nhap Luu Easter retreat. For very little outlay ( paying for the parts,   and a small team   working meditation to put them all together, being the sangha members' actual donation) these reproduction sit-on-your-desk-calligraphies have so far raised around $1000 through sales at just two public events.  A Day of Mindfulness in the city recently also raised $1000.  Another couple of practitioners - cash poor but skills rich - donated all the proceeds from a  public yoga workshop they ran to the building fund. Others have taken up local DT John Barclay's way of thinking (http://www.nhapluu.org/en/news/newsletters/76-nhap-luu-newsletter-special-nov2015) by choosing to forego certain trips or other personal acquisitions, for just one year, to enable themselves to contribute better directly. 

“What else might we do” is the question undoubtedly on everyone's lips .

Meantime Architect Tim Sullivan continues to look for a building contractor we feel we can rely on to complete the project in an acceptable time frame.


Seen at the Nhap Luu Easter Season Retreat, one Sangha members' fundraising bright idea.

BUILDING FUND DONATIONS

BUILDING FUND DONATIONS ARE BEST MADE USING:

http://nhapluu.org/en/events/coming-events/68-donation-form-building-pv-australia-phase-i

 

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