Creating Happy Moments

posted in: Dharma Topics | 0
Silver Spring, Maryland, Community Online on Thursday Evening
October 21, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Open to all Online on Friday Evening
October 22, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm

Dear Still Water Friends,

Sometimes I come across a few lines from a poem, or a few paragraphs of prose, that are so piercingly clear that they help me untangle my confusions and give meaning and direction to my life. Such clear thinking and writing is rarely about “correct definitions.” Rather, it marshals words and images to take me into the heart of phenomena so that I better understand how they came to be and how I can work with them in my life. My attention to clear thinking and writing was stimulated this week by a few paragraphs in The Art of Living in which Thich Nhat Hanh explores what spirituality means to him and how it shapes our lives:

Science is the pursuit of understanding, helping us to understand distant stars and galaxies, our place in the cosmos, as well as the intimate fabric of matter, living cells, and our own bodies. Science, like philosophy, is concerned with understanding the nature of existence and the meaning of life.

Spirituality is also a field of research and study. We want to understand ourselves, the world around us, and what it means to be alive on Earth. We want to discover who we really are, and we want to understand our suffering. Understanding our suffering gives rise to acceptance and love, and this is what determines our quality of life. We all need to be understood and to be loved. And we all want to understand and to love.

Spirituality is not religion. It is a path for us to generate happiness, understanding, and love, so we can live deeply each moment of our life. Having a spiritual dimension in our lives does not mean escaping life or dwelling in a place of bliss outside this world but discovering ways to handle life’s difficulties and generate peace, joy, and happiness right where we are, on this beautiful planet.

The spirit of practicing mindfulness, concentration, and insight in Buddhism is very close to the spirit of science. We don’t use expensive instruments but rather our clear mind and our stillness to look deeply and investigate reality for ourselves, with openness and non-discrimination. We want to know where we come from and where we are going. And most of all, we want to be happy. Humanity has given rise to many talented artists, musicians, and architects, but how many of us have mastered the art of creating a happy moment—for ourselves and those around us?

This Thursday and Friday evenings, after our meditation, we will explore in our Dharma sharing how spirituality and clear thinking and writing help us in creating happy moments for ourselves and those around us.

  • Does Thay’s writing on spirituality awaken something in you?
  • Do you think of yourself as a spiritual person?
  • How does (or might) your spirituality manifest in daily life?

You are invited to join us.

Two additional excerpts on spiritual practice by Thich Nhat Hanh are below.

Many blessings,

Mitchell Ratner

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Two Excerpts on Spiritual Practice
From The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now by Thich Nhat Hanh

I have been engaged in peace work for more than thirty years: combating poverty, ignorance, and disease; going to sea to help rescue boat people; evacuating the wounded from combat zones; resettling refugees; helping hungry children and orphans; opposing wars; producing and disseminating peace literature; training peace and social workers; and rebuilding villages destroyed by bombs. It is because of the practice of meditation—stopping, calming, and looking deeply—that I have been able to nourish and protect the sources of my spiritual energy and continue this work. …

Spiritual practice is the art of knowing how to generate happiness and handle suffering, just as a gardener knows how to make good use of mud in order to grow lotus flowers. Spiritual practice is what helps us to overcome challenging and difficult moments. It is the art of stopping and looking deeply to gain deeper insight. It is very concrete. We cultivate our spiritual practice body—which we can also call our “Dharma body”—by cultivating the seeds of awakening and mindfulness in our daily life. The more solid our spiritual body becomes, the happier we will be and the more we are able to help those around us be happier and suffer less. We all need a spiritual dimension in our life.

It is up to each one of us to develop a strong spiritual practice body every day. Every time you take one peaceful step or one mindful breath, your spiritual practice grows. Every time you embrace a strong emotion with mindfulness and restore your clarity and calm, it grows. Then, in difficult moments, your spiritual practice body will be right there with you when you need it. It is there with you at the airport, in the supermarket, or at work.

People can steal your phone, computer, or money, but they can never steal your spiritual practice. It is always there to protect and nourish you.

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