January 12, 2023 7:00 to 8:45 pm Eastern time
This poem (gatha) came to me as I thought about my desires for the New Year:
A year to be free
from delusions, distractions, and fear
Imagining and living my fullness.
In his last Dharma talk at Deer Park Monastery, on October 16, 2013, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) spoke of the liberation and freedom that are possible for us in every moment:
You can find the teaching of the Three Doors of Liberation in every Buddhist tradition. This teaching encompasses the contemplation on emptiness, the contemplation on signlessness, the contemplation on aimlessness…
Letting go of wrong views or incomplete views is possible with meditation. You can look deeply into a cloud or pebble or anything, because everything is teaching you the ultimate. The flower is teaching impermanence, no self, interbeing and nirvana. We need to have the kind of ear that can listen to the Dharma talk of the flower, the cloud and so on. We can use the doors of emptiness, signlessness and aimlessness to tune into these lessons which are all around us. If we know how to direct our attention, then all we have to do is listen.
I regularly experience the reality of interbeing in my connection with nature, but I have recently noticed that it is more challenging to feel the same oneness with people. I often have negative thoughts and misperceptions about people—those that I meet daily and those that I read about in the news. I see them as different or wrong, without really knowing or talking with them.
Judgmental thoughts and attitudes have always been an “edge” for me, and I recognize that they have kept me from experiencing real freedom. I have discovered that if I pause and notice these thoughts in the moment, I can question their validity and reawaken to the reality of interbeing. The freedom I am imagining allows me to embrace all creation.
As I expressed in my gatha, I am ready to step into more freedom, to let go of old habits that rob me of connection and joy. I am immensely grateful for the path of liberation that Thay offers to all people. In his book The Art of Living, Thay writes:
To meditate is to look deeply and see things that others cannot see, including the wrong views that lie at the base of our suffering. When we can break free from these wrong views, we can master the art of living happily in peace and freedom.
On Thursday evening, during our Dharma sharing, I look forward to exploring these questions with you:
- How have you practiced with the Three Doors of Liberation?
- Under what conditions does the experience of interbeing arise for you?
- Are you aware of holding any wrong views that you would like to let go of?
I hope you’ll join us.
Below is an excerpt from The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Here is the link to Mitchell’s blog where he describes his experiences in Vietnam this month: https://smileofthedandelion.wordpress.com. You can follow his blog and get emails whenever there are new posts.
To receive the Zoom link for this and future Thursday evening programs, please register at https://swmpc.breezechms.com/form/3a13952343463126. (If you already have the Thursday Zoom link, there is nothing you need to do.)
The first wrong view we need to liberate ourselves from is the idea that we are a separate self cut off from the rest of the world. We have a tendency to think we have a separate self that is born at one moment and must die at another, and that is permanent during the time we are alive. As long as we have this wrong view, we will suffer; we will create suffering for those around us, and we will cause harm to other species and to our precious planet. The second wrong view that many of us hold is the view that we are only this body, and that when we die we cease to exist. This wrong view blinds us to all the ways in which we are interconnected with the world around us and the ways in which we continue after death. The third wrong view that many of us have is the idea that what we are looking for—whether it be happiness, heaven, or love—can be found only outside us in a distant future. We may spend our lives chasing after and waiting for these things, not realizing that they can be found within us, right in the present moment.
There are three fundamental practices to help liberate us from these three wrong views: the concentrations on emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness. They are known as the Three Doors of Liberation and are available in every school of Buddhism. These three concentrations offer us a deep insight into what it means to be alive and what it means to die. They help us transform feelings of grief, anxiety, loneliness, and alienation. They have the power to liberate us from our wrong views, so we can live deeply and fully, and face dying and death without fear, anger, or despair.