Arriving Home Together Chanting Namo ‘Valo: A Celebration

Annie Mahon at her Lamp Transmission ceremony, June 10, 2022

Arriving Home Together Chanting Namo ‘Valo: A Celebration

Discussion date: Thu, Jul 14, 2022 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Thursday Evening Online Program
July 14, 2022,
7:00 to 8:45 pm Eastern Time


Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday evening will be a celebration. On Friday, June 10th, 2022, Annie Mahon participated in a Lamp Transmission ceremony at Plum Village, France, and was recognized as a Dharmacharya, a Teacher of the Dharma. Annie is one of Still Water’s earliest members, and is also the founder of the Opening Heart Mindfulness Community, The ceremony is part of an ancient Zen tradition through which the spiritual elders in the community entrust certain students with transmitting the practice of mindfulness to the next generation. Currently, in the Plum Village community, Order of Interbeing members are nominated to receive lamp transmission when the practice of mindfulness has permeated their lives, and when they have the capacity and willingness to teach.

An essential part of the ceremony is the sharing of short insight gathas or poems. The recipient shares an insight gatha that reveals their readiness, and the transmitting teacher accepts the poem and offers a poem that acknowledges the recipient’s strong practice and offers encouragement. Annie’s insight gatha was:

Seeing the skull with teeth in these foggy rainy woods,

I know this wildly free, composting world is mine, is me.

All of us will arrive home together chanting Namo ‘Valo,

Leaving nothing but our love and a few muddy footprints behind.

The transmission gatha Annie received from Brother Phap Ung was:

The jade waters of the deep lake

Refresh Mother Earth’s heat and pain.

We shall never give up our task

Watering the flowers of peace.

Brother Phap Ung’s gatha was a response to her gatha and included a reference to Annie’s “True Name” — True Blue Lake — given to her when she ordained in the Order of Interbeing in 2009. Annie told me that the encouragement she heard was support for not falling into despair, even when she repeatedly witnesses the deep suffering of the world.

This Thursday evening Annie will share with the Still Water community what receiving the lamp means to her. This will be followed by time for others to share what it means to them and to ask questions. Annie especially wants to talk about a time during the ceremony when Brother Phap Ung asked her to chant Namo ‘Valo. It was a pivotal moment when she learned something important about choice.

Annie also wanted me to share in this announcement, for those who cannot be with us on Thursday evening, that her aspiration as a Dharma teacher is, first and foremost, to continue to integrate her practice into all aspects of her daily life. In addition, she intends to continue supporting the Opening Heart Mindfulness Community and the Making-Visible project, exploring Dharma and economic justice with others, and being of service to the ARISE community.

It is for me a special honor to host this celebration for Annie. I have practiced with her for more than twenty years in a multitude of settings. She is a dear friend, co-conspirator, and spiritual companion. I welcome her into the community of Dharma teachers.

I invite you to join us on Thursday, July 14th.

In the excerpt below Thich Nhat Hanh explains how we are all teachers of the Dharma.

Many blessings,

Mitchell Ratner

An Excerpt from “Bodhisattvas,” a Dharma Talk offered by Thich Nhat Hanh on May 17, 2001.

There are Dharma teachers who are wonderful, talented, and effective, yet humble and loving without any discrimination within themselves. These teachers can be very young. They don’t mind having teachers who are not as effective as themselves. If the other person is a good teacher, I enjoy that. If the other person is not such a good teacher, I hope that she will do better. Because you have that kind of insight, you don’t have to suffer at all. You will not say, “How could such a person receive the lamp transmission to be a teacher?” In fact, there are those who have not received any transmission and who never desire a lamp transmission, but they are also wonderful teachers. There is a poem in Chinese:

The novice gives a Dharma talk

And the venerable bhikshu sits quietly and listens.

It’s not the age or the studies that count but the nature of the Buddha in us and the potential of being a true teacher in us. We can see the potential of being a teacher in the young novice. We don’t need a title to be a good teacher. First, we have to teach ourselves how to live happily, how to forgive, and how to be open. By doing so, we set an example for many people.

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Jul 14, 2022


This week
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Sun, March 3

Columbia Sunday Evening Practice

Mon, March 4

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Friends in Different Places

Tue, March 5

Takoma Park Morning Meditation

Tuesday Evening Gaithersburg Group

Wed, March 6

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Spanish-Speaking Online Practice

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Thu, March 7

Takoma Park Morning Meditation

Fri, March 8

Silver Spring Morning Meditation

Sat, March 9