Dear Still Water Friends,
A Generous Heart
Thursday, February 14, 2008
This past Sunday a group of Still Water practitioners and their children gathered to make Valentine’s cards. For many of us, our unofficial February 14th national holiday has evolved into a time to pause and acknowledge the gratitude and love we feel for those who are in our lives. Especially when they are handmade, the cards also embody our creativity and efforts—a simple yet generous giving of ourselves to others.
This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will explore together other ways we practice generosity. After our recitation of the Five Mindfulness Trainings, three experienced Still Water practitioners—Andy Laken, Lissie Sorensen, and Stephen Allen—will open our discussion by sharing their experiences working with the second training, on loving-kindness and generosity.
The text of the second training, as well as a short commentary on it by Thich Nhat Hanh, is below. I hope you can be with us.
Warm wishes and Happy Valentine’s Day,
Thich Nhat Hanh on the Second Mindfulness Training, from Touching Peace
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to cultivating loving kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals.
I am committed to practicing generosity by sharing my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.
Stealing comes in many forms. Oppression is one form of stealing, and it causes much suffering both here and in the Third World. Countries are torn by poverty and oppressions. We want to help hungry children help themselves, for example, but we are caught in a way of life that keeps us so busy that we do not have the time. We do not need a lot of money to help them. Sometimes they only need one pill or one bowl of food, but because we cannot free ourselves from our own small problems and our lifestyles, we don’t do anything.
This training is also about awareness of suffering and cultivating loving kindness. We may have the capacity of being generous, but we must also develop specific ways to express our generosity. Time is more than money. Time is for bringing joy and happiness to other people and thus to ourselves. There are three kinds of gifts—the gift of material resources, the gift of helping people rely on themselves, and the gift of non-fear. Helping people not be destroyed by fear is the greatest gift of all. This mindfulness training teaches us the very deep practice of sharing time, energy, and material resources with those who are in real need and truly reflects the bodhisattva ideal of compassion”