Silver Spring, Maryland, Community Online on Thursday Evening
November 12, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Open to all Online on Friday Evening
November 13, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Dear Still Water Friends,
This Thursday and Friday evenings, we will recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings and focus our Dharma sharing on the First Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.
I am particularly moved by Thich Nhat Hanh’s (Thay’s) encouragement to “cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views.” I notice how much I struggled to do that as the recent election results slowly rolled in. I was aware of thoughts like “Oh, great! We’re winning,” and “Oh, no! We’re losing.” It was as if I was being voted on. At times, my political views feel like the main way I define myself. It is as if I and my political views are one.
Thay reminds us that there is danger if we hold onto our views or ideas too tightly. However, it is much easier to see the anger and violence in other people’s views than it is to recognize them in our own. Any belief that is held too tightly, like the conviction that our way is the only way forward for our country, will result in intolerance of people who disagree. Thich Nhat Hanh writes in For a Future to be Possible:
It never helps to draw a line and dismiss some people as enemies, even those who act violently. We have to approach them with love in our hearts and do our best to help them move in a direction of nonviolence. If we work for peace out of anger, we will never succeed. Peace is not an end. It can never come about through non-peaceful means.
It’s important to clarify that that non-attachment doesn’t mean passivity or indifference. Instead, it refers to an open-minded and open-hearted engagement. It means acting with mindfulness. For me, that’s not acting out of anger or despair, which can create more suffering in myself or others, but instead getting in touch with the the hope and compassion those underlie those feelings.
Thay encourages us in For a Future to be Possible to direct loving kindness and compassion to ourselves, to our anger, and to others:
By cultivating peace within, we bring about peace in society. It depends on us. To practice peace in ourselves is to minimize the numbers of wars between this and that feeling, or this and that perception, and we can then have real peace with others as well, including the members of our own family.
Please join us this Thursday and Friday evenings as we explore the First Mindfulness Training. We will begin our Dharma sharing with these questions:
- How is the First Mindfulness Training important in your life?
- Does mindfulness and non-attachment to views help you protect life?
- When is this training difficult to practice?
- For those considering receiving the trainings in January – do you have a question about what it means to practice with any part of the First Training?
Below is a related excerpt by Thay.
This Thursday and Friday evening’s program serves as one of the preparatory classes for practitioners who wish to formally receive the Five Mindfulness Trainings on January 2, 2021. More information about the classes and the transmission ceremony is available on the Still Water website.
From a “History of Engaged Buddhism,” a Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, Hanoi, Vietnam, May 7, 2008
On Non-attachment to Views
Right View, first of all, means the absence of all views. Attachment to views is the source of suffering. Suppose you climb on a ladder, and on the fourth step you think you are already at the highest level. Then you are stuck! You have to release the fourth step in order to be able to get up to the fifth step. To be scientific, scientists have to release what they have found in order to come to a higher truth. This is the teaching of the Buddha: When you consider something to be the truth and you are attached to it, you must release it in order to go higher.
The basic spirit of Buddhism is non-attachment to views. Wisdom is not views. Insight is not views. We should be ready to release our ideas for true insight to be possible. Suppose you have notions about impermanence, non-self, interbeing, the Four Noble Truths. That may be dangerous, because these are only views. You are very proud that you know something about the Four Noble Truths, about interbeing, about interdependent origination, about mindfulness, concentration, and insight. But that teaching is only a means for you to get insight. If you are attached to these teachings, you are lost. The teaching about impermanence, nonself, interbeing, is to help you to get the insight of impermanence, non-self, and interbeing.
The Buddha said, “My teaching is like the finger pointing to the moon. You should be skillful. You look in the direction of my finger, and you can see the moon. If you take my finger to be the moon, you will never see the moon.” So even the Buddhadharma is not the truth, it’s only an instrument for you to get the truth. This is very basic in Buddhism.