Coming Home for the Holidays

Coming Home for the Holidays

Discussion date: Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

As you may know, Thich Nhat Hanh suffered a brain hemorrhage and has been in a coma for a month now. Several days ago we received an announcement from Plum Village that he is showing periodic indications of wakefulness. The doctors say it may be weeks or months before they know the extent of the damage caused by the hemorrhage and the extent of healing that may be possible. Please join with me in sending healing energy and love to Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh) and to the Plum Village monastics.

Two years ago Thay sent a Christmas message to his students that is relevant both to our season and to Thay’s current condition. In his message Thay noted that both the Buddha and Jesus were wanderers in their youth:

They wanted to find a warm abode where they would not have to search for anything anymore and where they would feel truly at home and at peace.

And through their courage and insight, both the Buddha and Jesus found a way to their true home:

In the end, Jesus found his true home in his heart. He found the light in his heart. He taught his disciples that they too have their own light and he taught them to bring that light out for others to see. Siddhartha taught that one’s true home can be found in the present moment. He developed practices for his disciples so that they too could find their true home. He taught that we each have an island within that is safe and secure.

Thay’s Christmas message then turns to the last months of the Buddha’s life. Once he knew his time of transitioning would soon come, he began journeying back to Kapilavastu, where he had grown up. Along the way he met with monastic and lay students and gave them short, encouraging Dharma talks:

These mini talks were usually centered on the topic of ‘true home’. He felt that after he had passed on, there would be many disciples who would be at a loss. The Buddha taught them that they all had a place of refuge to return to and that they should take refuge only there.

This practice, Thay writes, is for all of us:

We too, should return and take refuge in that abode and not take refuge in any other person or thing. That abode of refuge is the ‘Island of Self’; it is the Dharma, and there, one can find peace and protection; one can find our ancestors and our roots. This is our true home – our inner island where there is the light of the true Dharma. Returning there, one finds light, one finds peace and safety, and one is protected from the darkness. The ‘Island of Self’ is a safe place of refuge from the turbulent waves that can otherwise sweep us away. Taking refuge in this island within is a very important practice.

Thay concludes his message with an encouragement:

Let us all enjoy our practice of coming home this holiday season. Let us truly be at home within, and so become a home for our loved ones and all our friends.

This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will read together the full text of Thay’s Message, and reflect on his guidance to find our true home (and our true joy) in each moment and in each step. Are we able to come home for the holidays?

You are invited to be with us this Thursday.

You are also invited to join the Still Water community for the many special events and classes occurring or beginning in January of 2015. A list is below.

There will be no Thursday evening programs on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day.

Thay’s 2012 Christmas Message is available on the Mindfulness Bell website and on Facebook.

Warm holiday wishes,

Many blessings,

Mitchell Ratner

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Dec 18, 2014


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