Being Intimate with the Suffering World: A Day of Practice
Sat, June 23
Sat, June 23, 8:45 am– 3:30 pm
My world—and I’m sure yours too—is flooded daily with heartbreaking and frightening images from all over the world…. Every day, as all this recitation of worldwide suffering demands attention and help, it is easy to become overexcited or frightened or numb. How do we continue to care about what’s happening to our mountains and oceans, to those in the endless and cruel conflicts in the Middle East, or what a young woman faces in Afghanistan or even in our hometown? How can we stay vulnerable and open to the world and not be overwhelmed? How can we be intimate with the way the world is and not let it overrun us; exhaust us; create in us a sense of hopelessness, despair, and finally withdrawal?
— Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Most Intimate: A Zen Approach to Life’s Challenges
At a recent retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery, Sister True Vow (Sister The Nghiem) gave a Dharma talk about the different areas of engagement of our mindfulness and meditation practice. First there is the area of self awareness and self care, where we look deeply at our beliefs, fears, and habit energies, and come to know ourselves more intimately. Second, there is the area of environmental awareness and care of the environment, including the natural world and society in all its manifestations. Third, there is the place where self and world meet, where the world impinges on us and asks for our attention. Sister The invites us to spend some time right at that place of intersection between ourselves and the world.
How do we feel when we read an article or hear a newscast about some new disaster or atrocity in the world? When we feel dis-ease in the face of suffering, do we want to jump up and take an action—any action—so we won’t have to feel that pain? Or do we want to turn the page or change the channel because we feel that we “just can’t deal with this right now”? Roshi O’Hara notes that it’s easy to “slip back into a habitual self-protective shell” that distances us from the suffering of others and, at the same time, isolates us and strengthens the illusion that we are a separate self.
In our day together, we’ll take time to refresh and center ourselves through the practices our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, has taught us: mindful breathing, sitting, walking, and eating. We’ll explore what happens in the moment of intersection and inter-relationship between ourselves and the world. We’ll become aware if our inclination is to run towards or away from the world’s suffering. What skillful and appropriate action can we take in response to suffering in the world?
The day of practice will be led by Still Water practitioners Connie Anderson, Eliza King, and Gene Klinger. We’ll meet in the Octagon at Blueberry Gardens in Ashton, Maryland. The suggested dana (donation) is $50-$80. Dana is a gift from the heart that supports the community and the teachings; please feel free to contribute less or more depending on your circumstances.
We hope you can join us! All experience levels, including no meditation experience, are welcome. If you have questions, please email our registrar, Gene Klinger, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-731-3732.
Blueberry Gardens: A Center for Yoga, Growth, and Healing
237 Ashton Road
Ashton, MD 20861