Stream Entering Meditation Centre – Spring 2016 Newsletter 
Plum Village Australia
Unified Buddhist Church - Australia
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From the editors

Dear Thay, dear Sangha,

While the third annual Spring Opening Retreat has only just drawn to a close, we are ready and can bring you some sharing, and photographic moments from it, whilst keeping others for December. About one hundred and forty people from all over Australia had the chance to practise together during this retreat, which was led by the Sisters from Nhap Luu Meditation Centre together with Thich Chan Phap Kham and other visiting Monastics from the Asian Institute of Applied Buddhism (AIAB) in Hong Kong. It ran over five days in the beautiful Australian bush setting of Cave Hill Creek, very near our own centre.

Bu with this also year being the 50th anniversary of the Order of Interbeing, in Australia we decided to celebrate that as well, with a special retreat for OI members immediately following the Spring Opening. In this edition of Nhap Luu News, one of our senior Dharma Teachers, Tony Mills, reflects on what the Order of Interbeing means to him, and in our December issue, we will be able to report on some of the important outcomes of that retreat.

We are continuing to explore the practical ramifications of the interbeing nature of ourselves with all other living beings and our planet, in the third part of our bi-lingual special ‘I'm in Love with Mother Earth’. This time we are all invited to think more deeply around our daily transport of choice, and the impact of our long haul travel, and to consider how these activities may impact on the life that surrounds us and on the future. For those of us who have committed to living our lives in accordance with the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings as Order of Interbeing members, there really is no room for avoiding what this means in terms of setting an example. It is, at the very least, an invitation for us all to begin to demonstrate more generosity, compassion and wisdom through being willing to make appropriate changes. Changes that might demonstrate an understanding of Thay Phap Dung’s article on the Paris Climate Conference. You may like to take inspiration from his writing right here in Vietnamese: http://langmai.org/tang-kinh-cac/la-thu-lang-mai/la-thu-lang-mai-39-2016/dung-lai-nhin-sau-va-hanh-dong or in English: http://plumvillage.org/news/reflections-on-the-paris-climate-conference/

In our previous newsletter, we had begun to look at Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings on the Six Paramitas (‘The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching’, Chapter 25) and how we can practise with these in everyday life. This time, we continue the topic with Thay's teaching on the second paramita - shila paramita (or mindfulness trainings), and a beautifully written reflection by a local sangha member, Ruth Thomas, on her personal practice of that. An invitation is extended to you for personal dharma sharing contributions around the practice of the third paramita, kshanti paramita (or inclusiveness) for the next issue in December. Guidelines for contributions can be found in every Nhap Luu News including this one.

Sangha member Narelle Hanratty has also taken the opportunity that Nhap Luu News affords for dharma sharing, to give us her wonderfully poignant personal offering ‘Right View in a Call Centre’ in this edition, demonstrating practice in real life; and ‘From The Sisters’ this time centres around just how enjoyable a visit to Nhap Luu Meditation Centre can be, through a letter of appreciation from a recent guest.

Hopefully, you've all been learning to navigate your way with ease towards the articles of your preference, using our interactive index. If this is the first time you have enjoyed Nhap Luu News and you would like to explore further, the newsletters are archived and available for you here, too:
http://www.nhapluu.org/en/news/newsletters

Understanding that change is always with us, right now we want to share our appreciation and gratitude for Jenny Pittman (True Shore of Virtue) who has offered so much editing assistance and advice to this newsletter over the last two years. She has decided to focus more now on other sangha activities in her role as a Dharma Teacher, while still remaining a treasured adviser for us. Equally, we want to thank and welcome Helen Snowden (True Ocean of Light) who has stepped to the fore as an editor. And as always we are grateful to Leonie Clark for her dedication to making the newsletter beautiful with great layout, and to our two wonderful translators, Lê Đỗ Đăng Trình  (Trinh) and Trần Thị Thanh Quý (Angela) without whose skills and heart for the Dharma we could not bring bilingual material to our community at all.

May you all be peaceful and happy, and may the offerings we bring you continue to strengthen our sense of oneness and shared purpose in this big, wide country.

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

Kính thưa Sư Ông, kính thưa đại chúng,

Lành thay, trong bản tin lần này, chúng tôi có cơ hội được đem đến cho quý vị những chia sẻ sâu sắc và những bức ảnh tuyệt vời từ Khoá Tu Mùa Xuân lần thứ ba của Làng Mai Úc Châu. Khoảng 140 Phật tử trên khắp nước Úc đã có cơ hội cùng nhau thực tập trong khoá tu này, dưới sự hướng dẫn của các Sư Cô từ thiền viện Nhập Lưu, cùng các Sư Chú từ Phật Học Viện Châu Á (Asian Institute of Applied Buddhism - AIAB) tại Hương Cảng. Khoá thiền đã diễn ra trong năm ngày tại một miền quê Úc thanh bình, và chúng tôi hy vọng có thể hạnh ngộ quý vị tại đây vào năm tới.

Năm nay đánh dấu kỷ niệm 50 năm dòng tu Tiếp Hiện. Nhân dịp này tại Úc, chúng tôi đã mở một khoá tu đặc biệt dành riêng cho các vị Tiếp Hiện, ngay sau khoá tu mùa xuân. Trong bản tin Nhập Lưu kỳ này, một trong những vị giáo thọ kỳ cựu của chúng tôi, Tony Mills, sẽ chia sẻ cảm nhận của ông về dòng tu Tiếp Hiện.

Chúng tôi cũng sẽ tiếp tục tìm hiểu ý nghĩa thực tiễn của mối quan hệ tương tức giữa mỗi cá nhân với các loại chúng sinh và địa cầu, thông qua phần ba của loạt bài song ngữ “Chúng Con Kính Yêu Đất Mẹ.” Kỳ này, chúng tôi mời quý vị cùng suy ngẫm sâu hơn về những phương tiện đi lại hằng ngày, cũng như những tác động đến môi sinh của những chuyến đi dài, và cân nhắc xem chúng sẽ ảnh hưởng như thế nào đến sự sống quanh ta và thế hệ tương lai. Những ai đã phát nguyện sống theo Mười Bốn Giới Tiếp Hiện lại càng cần phải suy ngẫm và làm gương cho tăng thân. Chúng tôi xin mời quý vị cùng thực tập sự rộng lượng, lòng từ bi và trí tuệ, thông qua những thay đổi trong đời sống hằng ngày theo cách mà thầy Pháp Dung đã chia sẻ trong bài viết về Hội Nghị Khí Hậu Paris. Quý vị có thể đọc toàn văn bài viết bằng tiếng Việt tại: http://langmai.org/tang-kinh-cac/la-thu-lang-mai/la-thu-lang-mai-39-2016/dung-lai-nhin-sau-va-hanh-dong, hoặc tiếng Anh tại: http://plumvillage.org/news/reflections-on-the-paris-climate-conference/ 

Trong những bản tin trước, chúng ta đã tìm hiểu lời dạy của Sư Ông về Sáu Pháp Ba La Mật (Trái Tim Của Bụt, Chương 25), và cách áp dụng những hiểu biết này vào cuộc sống hằng ngày. Kỳ này, chúng ta sẽ tiếp tục đề tài này với lời dạy của Sư Ông về pháp ba la mật thứ hai (shila paramita), tức trì giới, và bài chia sẻ rất hay của một thành viên tăng thân, cô Ruth Thomas, về kinh nghiệm thực tập của cá nhân cô.

Bài viết “Từ các Sư Cô” đã minh hoạ rõ nét sự bận rộn trong việc chuẩn bị cho mỗi khoá tu, nhưng bù lại là niềm an lạc của cư sĩ mỗi khi đến thăm thiền viện Nhập Lưu.

Nhân dịp Bản Tin Nhập Lưu kêu gọi đóng góp chia sẻ, một tăng thân khác, cô Narelle Hanratty đã cúng dường cho đại chúng một bài viết vô cùng sâu sắc mang tên “Chánh Kiến nơi một Tổng Đài Điện Thoại”.

Chúng tôi kính mời quý vị đóng góp cho ấn bản tháng Chạp sắp tới những chia sẻ về sự thực tập của quý vị đối với pháp ba la mật thứ ba (kshanti paramita), tức nhẫn nhục/ bao dung. Quý vị có thể tham khảo hướng dẫn đóng góp chia sẻ trong mỗi ấn phẩm của Bản Tin Nhập Lưu. Ban biên tập cũng sẽ đem đến cho quý vị phần bốn và cũng là phần cuối của loạt bài “Chúng Con Yêu Đất Mẹ” vào tháng Chạp.

Chúng tôi hi vọng rằng, thông qua phần mục lục đầu mỗi bản tin, quý vị có thể dễ dàng chọn đọc những bài viết mình ưa thích. Nếu đây là lần đầu tiên quý vị đọc Bản Tin Nhập Lưu và muốn tìm hiểu thêm, quý vị có thể tìm đọc những bản tin trước tại đây: http://www.nhapluu.org/en/news/newsletters

Xin chân thành cảm ơn Jenny Pittman (True Shore of Virtue) đã hỗ trợ chúng tôi rất nhiều trong việc biên tập bản tin Nhập Lưu trong suốt hai năm qua. Cô đã quyết định tập trung vào những hoạt động khác của tăng thân trong vai trò là một vị giáo thọ, dù vẫn tiếp tục là một cố vấn đắc lực cho ban biên tập. Chân thành cảm ơn Helen Snowden (True Ocean of Light) đã đứng ra lãnh nhiệm vụ làm biện tập viên cho chúng tôi. Chúng tôi cũng chân thành cảm ơn hai dịch giả, Lê Đỗ Đăng Trình và Trần Thị Thanh Quý (Angela), nhờ kĩ năng và tấm lòng đối với Phật Pháp của hai em mà chúng tôi có thể đem đến những tài liệu song ngữ cho cộng đồng tăng thân.

Nguyện cho toàn thể đại chúng luôn bình yên và an lạc, và nguyện cho những hiến tặng trong bản tin này tiếp tục củng cố tinh thần nhất thể đồng tâm của đại gia đình quốc gia to lớn này.

Susan Wirawan (Chân Nguyện Lưu)
Từ Ban Biên Tập

"Forest Floor"  Nhap Luu Meditation Centre 2016. Photograph courtesy of Br.Pháp Hiên and the Monastic Sangha of AIAB.
 

IN THIS ISSUE

 

Dates for your diary

CHRISTMAS and NEW YEAR will both be celebrated at Nhap Luu, and Sangha and Friends are warmly invited. For exact schedules please check closer to the time at www.nhapluu.org.

2017 Retreats:

EASTER SEASON RETREATS will be held in Adelaide, Sydney, Nhap Luu, and finally Brisbane.  Happily, Brother Phap Hai will return to Australia to teach on this tour, after quite a while away. For exact details of these retreats, please check  www.nhapluu.org in the next few weeks.

PLUM VILLAGE AUSTRALIA 2017 SPRING OPENING RETREAT will again be held at Cave Hill Creek  in Victoria, in the first week of the September school holidays, from September 22nd until September 28th. Retreat details will be made available by email and on the website, in approximately May 2017.

 

Order of Interbeing 50th Anniversary

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Order of Interbeing. On the 5th February, 1966, a full moon day, Thay Nhat Hanh ordained the first six members of the Order of Interbeing (OI). As those who live according to the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the OI, we are the continuation of those first six members. The Order was created by Thay to help revitalise Buddhism during a time of war, as a ‘spiritual resistance movement' and to make Buddhism a refuge for those experiencing the dislocating effects of conflict. While we in Australia may not be experiencing war directly we know that there is much violence and conflict in our society, and families. The best way to help our society to be more peaceful is to be diligent practitioners of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings.

In her book ‘Learning True Love’, Sister Chan Khong describes the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the OI as her ‘primary teacher, especially when I have been under stress and do not know the best way to act’. She also advises us to be diligent in our practice and to support and strengthen our sangha and to share our experiences, including our difficulties, of living the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings.

I received these Mindfulness Trainings at the Easter Retreat in 1998 at a ceremony on the Lotus Bud Sangha’s land at Howes Valley, near Singleton in NSW. There were five of us who received the Trainings on that day and it is a landmark day in my life.

In my relationships with my family and friends, the Trainings provide a guide to assist me develop understanding and compassion. They have given me tools to embrace and listen to my own suffering and the capacity to help alleviate suffering in the world. Thay has indeed given us something to celebrate.

Tony Mills
True Forest of Light

Meditation Walking in Hanoi 2008.
Photo courtesy of Paul Davis CHÂN PHÚC ĐƯỜNG (True Hall of Merits) 

I'm In Love With Mother Earth

The Earth Peace Treaty* suggests a number of small practical daily actions that we can take to reduce our own ecological footprint.  When we take even some of them on board, we know that we are consuming more responsibly, and more in accord with Buddhist understandings of interbeing, kindness, and generosity of spirit.  We are significantly reducing our personal carbon footprint through aspiring to practise the Mindfulness Trainings just a little more deeply. 

*http://deerpark.libsyn.com/earth_peace_treaty_commitment_sheet


English version:

*Carbon Footprint: The total sets of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organisation, event, product or individual.

*Carbon offset schemes: allow individuals or companies to invest in environmental projects around the world in order to balance out their own carbon footprints. Such carbon-offset projects might involve rolling out clean energy technologies or even soaking up CO2 directly from the air through the planting of trees.

Some people and organisations offset their entire carbon footprint, while others aim to neutralise the impact of a specific activity, such as taking a flight. When we offset the carbon footprint of our personal flight, we choose (tick a box) to pay a small additional fee to the airline, which they will include/ use towards their investments for carbon-offsetting.

Reduce flight travel and purchase carbon offset credits to compensate for the carbon emissions from your flight

Why should we do this? Air travel has a disproportionately big impact on our environment and climate change as planes burn fossil fuel and release a lot of carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming. Compared to other means of transportation like driving and trains, ‘travelling by air has a greater climate impact per passenger kilometre, even over longer distances, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. By only flying when absolutely necessary, we can reduce our individual contribution to climate change. We can use alternative means of transportation, take holidays closer to home and use the internet to organise meetings or keep in touch with family who live far. 

If we do have to fly, we can purchase carbon credits to offset the emissions from our travel. Most airlines have a carbon credit purchase system available as part of their booking process, and it does not cost very much at all. (For more information see http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/reduce-your-carbon-footprint/travel-sustainably/

Car pool to work or use public transport

Why should we do it? The price of fuel is constantly increasing and the traffic conditions on our roads worsening. So travelling by car seems to be a less and less attractive choice much of the time anyway. More importantly though, driving a car contributes to global warming through the emissions of carbon dioxide that come about when fossil fuels are burned. This obviously also contributes to the pollution of our air - and a decrease in the air quality in our cities - which can have very adverse effects on public health. For example, the pollutants and particulate matter emitted by cars have been linked with a number of respiratory illnesses, in particular asthma and bronchitis, as well as an increased incidence of cancer, all of which lead to thousands of premature deaths every year so this is a very serious issue (http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/vehicles-air-pollution-and-human-health#.VqCOwq8xmrU

Car pooling or using public transport is more efficient, often saving time in addition to money, and whenever we make one of these choices, we know we are reducing our own carbon footprint, and helping to reduce the causes of global warming.

Air dry clothes instead of using a dryer

Why should we do it? Using a dryer uses excessive and unnecessary additional electricity, which is (most of the time) produced through the burning of fossil fuels (mainly coal, in Australia). This produces greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming. Air drying our washing saves electricity and money, and reduces our personal contribution to global warming and climate change. 


Vietnamese version:

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

*Các chương trình bù trừ các-bon : cho phép các cá nhân hoặc doanh nghiệp đầu tư vào những dự án môi sinh trên khắp địa cầu nhằm cân bằng lượng khí thải các-bon. Những dự án bù trừ các-bon có thể bao gồm việc triển khai những công nghệ năng lượng sạch, hoặc trồng thêm rừng để hấp thu bớt lượng các-bon trong khí quyển. Một số cá nhân và tổ chức đã hoàn toàn bù trừ được lượng khí các-bon mà họ thải ra, trong khi một số khác hướng tới việc giảm thiểu tác động của một hoạt động nhất định, chẳng hạn như việc đi máy bay. Nếu quý vị muốn bù trừ lượng khí các-bon thải ra trong chuyến bay của mình, quý vị có thể lựa chọn chi trả một khoản phụ phí khi đặt mua vé – khoản phụ phí này sẽ được sử dụng cho các dự án bù trừ các-bon.

Hạn chế đi máy bay và mua tín dụng các-bon để bù đắp cho lượng khí thải ra từ chuyến bay của quý vị.

Vì sao chúng ta nên làm điều này? Di chuyển bằng đường hàng không gây tác động lớn đến môi trường và quá trình biến đổi khí hậu, do các phi cơ thường sử dụng nhiên liệu hoá thạch và thải ra rất nhiều khí CO2, góp phần khiến trái đất nóng lên. Theo Tổ Chức David Suzuki, so với những phương tiện khác như xe hơi hay xe lửa, ‘máy bay ảnh hưởng nhiều hơn đến khí hậu trên mỗi km đường bay, ngay cả đối với những chuyến bay dài’. Quý vị chỉ nên đi máy bay khi thực sự cần thiết, từ đó giảm thiểu tác động cá nhân đến môi trường. Quý vị có thể sử dụng các phương tiện di chuyển khác, chọn địa điểm du lịch gần hơn, hoặc sử dụng internet để họp mặt và giữ liên lạc với người thân ở xa.

Nếu không còn lựa chọn nào khác, quý vị có thể mua tín dụng các-bon để bù đắp cho lượng khí thải ra từ chuyến bay của mình. Hầu hết các hãng hàng không đều cung cấp các chương trình mua tín dụng các-bon trong quá trình đặt vé, với chi phí không quá đắt đỏ. Xem thêm thông tin tại: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/reduce-your-carbon-footprint/travel-sustainably

Đi xe chung hoặc sử dụng phương tiện công cộng

Vì sao chúng ta nên làm điều này? Với giá xăng dầu đang ngày càng leo thang và hạ tầng giao thông đang trở nên quá tải, việc đi lại bằng xe riêng cũng không còn thuận tiện như trước. Quan trọng hơn nữa, khí thải CO2 từ việc đốt nhiên liệu hoá thạch để chạy xe hơi góp phần khiến cho trái đất nóng lên, và làm ô nhiễm không khí, khiến chất lượng sống và sức khoẻ cộng đồng ở các thành phố lớn bị đe doạ. Chẳng hạn, nghiên cứu cho thấy các chất khí thải trong khói xe hơi có liên quan đến một số bệnh đường hô hấp, đặc biệt là hen suyễn và viêm phế quản, cũng như tăng tỉ lệ mắc bệnh ung thư – tất cả đều dẫn đến hàng ngàn ca tử vong mỗi năm. Đây là một vấn đề thực sự nghiêm trọng. (http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/vehicles-air-pollution-and-human-health#.VqCOwq8xmrU)

Đi xe chung hoặc sử dụng phương tiện giao thông công cộng vừa hiệu quả, tiết kiệm thời gian và tiền bạc, lại vừa giúp giảm thiểu lượng khí thải các-bon của mỗi chúng ta, góp phần giảm thiểu những tác nhân dẫn đến quá trình nóng lên của trái đất.

Phơi khô quần áo tự nhiên thay vì dùng máy sấy

Vì sao chúng ta nên làm điều này? Máy sấy quần áo làm tiêu tốn một lượng điện khổng lồ một cách không cần thiết, và phần lớn lượng điện này được sản xuất thông qua việc đốt nhiên liệu hoá thạch (chủ yếu là than đá ở Úc). Quá trình này làm phát sinh khí nhà kính, góp phần vào sự nóng lên toàn cầu. Phơi khô quần áo tự nhiên sẽ giúp tiết kiệm điện năng và tiền bạc, cũng như làm giảm tác động của mỗi chúng ta đến quá trình biến đổi khí hậu và sự nóng lên toàn cầu.

Esther Alloun (Caring Equanimity of the Heart)
(Trinh Le and Angela Tran Trans).
 


Water Reflecting, Cave Hill Creek, September 2016. photo courtesy of Ruth Thomas.
 


Nhap Luu Lavender September 2016  photo courtesy  AIAB Monastic Sangha

 

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Dharma Sharing - Right View in a Call Centre


By Narelle Hanratty

“As long as there is an idea, there is no reality, no truth.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to begin a discovery of “right view”, one of the aspects of the  noble eightfold path.

I took a casual job as a telephone interviewer in a call centre. The job involved calling hundreds of people per shift, and asking them to spend 20 or 30 minutes doing a survey on topics such as voting intentions, public transport usage or waste disposal, usually just as they were about to sit down to dinner.

It was really challenging. It takes a lot of energy to speak to hundreds of people. It was also stressful because I was expected to complete a target number of surveys per shift. I felt a tension between my desire to meet the target and the mystery of how some colleagues could get a string of “yesses”, while others would only get “nos”. 

All this made me anxious, and often I dreaded going there.

One day, I decided to see if I could develop a different approach. I started to watch my thoughts closely, especially those in the 30 seconds or so between calls, and at the beginning of each conversation.

I noticed when I said hello to the person, my mind was instantly judging and assessing, “Oh, this one sounds like they’ll do it”, “This one sounds friendly”, “This one will be a yes” and so on, and that I was attached to the outcome I wanted. I started to experiment and I learnt that when I saw those thoughts I could give them up. 

Suddenly, everything changed. At the moment of giving up the thought, a space opened and in the space the conversation went very differently. As I gave up my attachment to the outcome, the person on the other end intuited they were free, and more and more people said “yes”.

Soon, I was a top performer. The job became easy, enjoyable and I had some of the best conversations I’ve had in my life. I wrote to the head of the research company thanking her for the opportunity of working there and the privilege of being able to spend 20 or 30 minutes with people discussing their lives. 

Giving up my attachment to an outcome, a view, was a priceless lesson. The next step is to bring the practice to other relationships in my life.

Narelle Hanratty practises with Birrarung Sangha, in Melbourne.
 


 





 

                        Narelle Hanratty                                       Spring wattle on the Banks of the Yarra

From The Nhap Luu Sisters



Cave Hill Creek Lake. September 2016  photo courtesy of  AIAB Monastic Sangha

Appreciation of a visit to Nhap Luu

“My Dearest Spiritual Sisters,

First of all, I would like to thank Sister Thuan Tien (Sister TT) for letting me stay at Nhap Luu Monastery. Thank you to Sister Tri Duyen for making my journey to Nhap Luu so easy by picking me up from Beaufort station. The experience of living together with all of you was a privilege, which I will always cherish. You welcomed me into your warm and comfortable home with loving kindness and an open heart.

I wish I could follow your example of breathing mindfully and being in the here and now. Observing your practice has helped me to establish new mindful habits. Hopefully I can transform my old habits and this will lead to concentration and insight, and eventually cut through all illusions in me.

In the morning during my stay at Nhap Luu, when the sky was still dark, Sister Tam Tanh and I would walk to the Meditation Hall for sitting meditation. It felt so serene and free. The chanting, the sutra, the bell and the quietness would bring a feeling of calm, happiness and peace. It was magical. It was just wonderful.

Taking the short walk to the communal kitchen from home for breakfast was so refreshing. We would pass a beautiful lake and sometimes had the chance to be greeted by some kangaroos, which was another wonderful moment. The kangaroos are so free and happy roaming in the open space and natural bushland. 

Walking meditation was one of my favourite activities. I felt happiness and peace in my heart. I felt so connected with the earth, the trees, the air, the surroundings, the kangaroos, the sky, the universe and felt I truly understood the meaning of interbeing. As Thay said "Peace is the way". 

Working meditation was amazingly delightful. I did not feel that this was a chore at all, but was full of happiness, fun and peacefulness. Working with Sister TT, Sister TD, Sister Tam Tanh and my dharma friends Susan, Heng and My was really fun. We even had the opportunity to enjoy espresso coffee made by Sister TT. Lunch was a special time for all of us as we silently contemplated our food and ate in mindfulness.

Listening to a dharma talk from our beloved teacher Thay was very special too. Every time I hear Thay I always discover something new from his teaching that can be applied to my life. The Four Establishments of Mindfulness were explained to me by Sister Song Hong. It was fantastic. My understanding was much deeper than if I had read it by myself. During afternoon meditation with the Touching the Earth practice I felt so peaceful and happy. The silence, the chanting and the connection with the Earth were just so beautiful.

After we had enjoyed eating dinner and washing dishes together, Sister Song Hong (Sister Red River Moon) would feed the possum with an apple or orange. Surprisingly the possum could peel the skin off the orange!

Walking home from the kitchen by torchlight was beautiful. While we were chatting and laughing along the way, sometimes we were lucky to meet the 'white' kangaroo. It was full of fun at home too; filling the hot bottles for the night and sitting in front of the fireplace together with Sister Co Duyen, Sister Tinh Quang and Sister Thuong Tru reading Buddhist stories, chatting, joking and laughing!!!

In short, my twelve wonderful days staying with you all was truly amazing, full of happiness, peace and so enjoyable. I have finally understood the meaning of mindfulness and how to apply it in every moment of my daily life. Uniting body and mind is so awesome and liberating.

Thank you so much and hopefully we will be able to meet and stay together again. Miss you all.

Smile and breathe

  
The Toilet block at the Meditation Hall is finished and a carport is manifesting down at the Sisters' house

Dharma Talk - The Second Paramita: Shila Paramita

“The second practice is the perfection of the precepts, or mindfulness trainings, shila paramita. The Five Mindfulness Trainings help protect our body, mind, family, and society…the practice of the Five Mindfulness Trainings is a form of love, and a form of giving. It assures the good health and protection of our family and society. Shila paramita is a great gift that we can make to our society, our family, and to those we love.  The most precious gift we can offer our society is to practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings. If we live according to the Five Mindfulness trainings we protect ourselves and the people we love.  When we practice shila paramita we offer the precious gift of life”.  TNH “The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching.

Dharma Sharing - Practising with the Shila Paramita

Practising ethics, shila — the precepts or Five Mindfulness Trainings — is fundamental to all faith traditions. Over time, practising and contemplating deeply, we see each is held within the other. Following Simon Du’s dharma sharing about dana in the last Newsletter, we can see that the same is true of the paramitas: dana inter-is with shila. Practising ethics is clearly an act of generosity and generosity is an ethical act. 

In The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching Thay explains that by incorporating shila into our daily practice we can cross over from the shore of suffering to the shore of wellbeing. He reminds us that the crux of the Five Mindfulness Trainings is protecting body, mind, family and society, all beings, plants and minerals. All these elements of Earth inter-are. If we protect one element, we protect the whole — which means the converse also is true — if we harm one element, we harm the whole.

Although brought up respecting the Ten Commandments, I was very fortunate to encounter the Buddhist precepts in young adulthood and to experience this combination as a guide and reminder of ethical conduct throughout my lifetime. Even so, there is a vast difference between experiencing something as a guide and stopping, looking deeply and moving from a place of deep insight.

As a young person, I was always looking for a sense of balance — balance between family and work, between work and play, between play and family. Apart from occasional brief moments, real equipoise was elusive. I was never satisfied with the division of resources, regardless of what I tried.

Having followed Thay’s teachings via podcasts for years, I only ‘discovered’ Nhap Luu and committed to the Five Mindfulness Trainings last year. I enjoy contemplating the Mindfulness Trainings regularly as part of my practice and have since made an important discovery. I now know what was missing from my earlier search for balance, for equilibrium — the committed practice of mindfulness. In mindfulness, balance is attained without effort. No juggling required. Satisfaction guaranteed.

The mindfulness bell of equipoise (or lack of it) is now available to me everywhere!  (continued, below)


Testing the new Tree House. Nhap Luu Meditation Centre September 2016.
Photo courtesy AIAB Monastic Sangha

Retreat Sharing

I visited Nhap Luu's annual  national Retreat with my two beautiful daughters last September and felt that for the first time in my life I belonged.  The five days I spent with the Monastics as well as the Sangha were the most empowering, enlightening, and ultimately life changing few days of my life.

When I say life changing I mean it in a literal sense. This experience removed me from  the feeling of having to try to be everything for everyone, and allowed me, or even gave me permission, to focus on myself and the relationships outside of the shell of my body. 

The clarity of thought, and the and realisation that I am actually allowed to feel, and even think about, past pains gave me the strength and courage to become more responsible for my emotions and external relationships.

This year, upon my return, I have been welcomed  as family and, again, I feel as though I have come home. My life outside is very busy with much responsibility for many people and I seldom allow myself the opportunity to stop or even slow down.

This amazing Retreat provides me with time to just be. The teachings of the Dharma talks and the close communion of like-minded spirits, along with the tranquil setting of  the venue in regional Victoria, create an almost euphoric experience for me and I am thankful.

There are many reasons I chose to write all this, but  mainly to share the fact that the Retreats enable me to release a great deal of anger and pain and allow me to be a much better person, mother,  wife, and teacher. They provide me with the courage, strength, and mindfulness that allow me in turn to continue providing my daughters with the wisdom of foresight and understanding.

I love being able to empower these two future young women with tools such as mindfulness, compassion, and empathy. The importance for me as an individual to have the opportunity to revisit such an enlightening experience annually is greater than words can explain.

Megan Wright.

Megan lives in regional Victoria in Learmonth, close to Nhap Luu Meditation Centre. She strengthens her practice at regular Days of Mindfulness at Nhap Luu.

Practising with the Shila Paramita - (continued)

“On reflection, different precepts pose particular challenges at different stages of life. When I was young, the drive to partner up and form a family was strong. Without a committed mindfulness practice, elements contained within the Third Mindfulness Training were more challenging — in particular, taking good care of sexual energy. Right Mindfulness ensures solid relationships are formed with integrity.

I inherited a deep love of nature from both my parents, ripening as work in national parks and resource management. Affinity with the precepts nourished my desire to protect all beings, plants, minerals and landscapes so I find practising that aspect of the Fifth Mindfulness Training easier. However, without stopping and looking deeply, I can become angry and even hateful towards people intent on exploiting or destroying nature so, concurrently, I need to focus on the Second Mindfulness Training. 

Whatever my work, I weave in themes of reducing consumption and protecting nature. By taking more than we need we are in effect breaking the First Mindfulness Training — we steal from others, from the earth.

An aspect of environmental care that challenges me and which conflicts with the First Mindfulness Training concerns environmental pests eg. feral pigs and other species that destroy landscapes; exotic doves and other species that displace and cause local extinctions of native species. I feel deep pain when exposed to damage caused by pest species. I need to stop and look deeply, again and again. Mother Earth is thrown out of balance by our afflictions. Everything is out of kilter. She is trying to rebalance herself. Introduced species are here because of our actions. In mindfulness, I realise that if a species can survive in this unbalanced, fouled and devastated environment, I need to rejoice. All things are impermanent, including the natural environment as we once knew it and as we currently know it. This is the painful reality.

Currently I am struggling with another aspect of the Fifth Mindfulness Training. Working as a chaplain and as a carer is transformative. Over the past year, the Five Mindfulness Trainings have helped me access more and more balance, but after ‘being there’ for people in need most of my waking hours it is easy to skip nourishing meals, forego preliminary practices, meditation, exercise etc. — all agents vital in maintaining balance. 

Living alone it requires discipline to not choose a handful of nuts and a jigsaw puzzle over spending time mindfully enjoying preparing a nourishing vegan meal. Stop. Breathe. Listen to my body. Listen to my mind. Deeply. What are they telling me? What do they need? They need fresh wholesome foods to help restore mind and body! So ideally I rest, then prepare food. Ensure ingredients are present. Every day laziness tempts and I need to maintain awareness.

Despite the challenge of innate laziness, practising shila, the Five Mindfulness Trainings, brings great joy and fulfilment to my life. I am wholly grateful to Thay and all wise teachers past and present who support us on the Path. Merci beaucoup! 

Ruth Thomas (Reflective Wholesomeness of the Heart)

 
Ruth Thomas lives in Bundaberg, Queensland. Baby gum tree foliage sprouting anew.
Photos courtesy of Ruth Thomas

Building Fund News and Donations

BUILDING FUND DONATIONS ARE BEST MADE USING:

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


BUILDING NHAP LUU; AN UPDATE

The Proposed Buildings

 As we know, stage one of our three stage development project will cost approximately $300K and is already designed.  We have a builder, and we are waiting for the final building permit which has been applied for some time ago.  It will be an eco-friendly building for lay practitioners' accommodation, and for the use of visiting monks.. It includes 6 bedrooms (which each sleep four people). one office, a communal room, 2 segregated bathrooms with two toilets and showers each, and an accessible bathroom with toilet and shower. The design makes it very easy for rooms to be added as funds and the need arise later on. We intend to begin actual work on this, late this year (2016)

To date, we have raised $200.000 -plus some, and there are promises of more.  But we need to keep on keeping on. 

Stage two will potentially also cost around another $300K and will give the centre a proper kitchen with attached dining hall to seat up to one hundred. This we must be working on by some time through next year (2016) if we are to be able to satisfy the council's requirements in a proper and timely fashion.

These two are the matters of really pressing importance. The local Council is being as helpful as they are able, in silently “allowing “us the time to complete the project.

Once these stages are behind us, we will then be able to look towards our Stage Three, which will be permanent and suitable accommodation for the Monks that we have all long wanted and hoped to see here, and at a less urgent pace.

All our buildings will reflect the monastics' commitment to taking care of the environment, and to living in a simple and considered way.

We need your active participation to ensure that all of this can happen. With your help as either practitoners already committed to the Teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, or as other Buddhist admirers of this extraordinary Teacher, or simply as friends of the community - the bud that we see now can open and blossom and grow to become Plum Village Australia.

Please get involved now.

After the Event... a group photo of all the AIAB and Nhap Luu Monastics who were involved with the 2016 Spring Opening Retreat- together with some of the 35 attendees at the Birrarung Sangha post-retreat public talk this Tuesday the 27th. Photo courtesy Chu Chi Vuu

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