Dharma Topic: The Connectedness of Life

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Dear Still Water Friends,

Many of us come to mindfulness practice because we want something tochange in our lives: we want less stress, more calm, lessscatteredness, more concentration, and so on. If we stay withmindfulness practice for a while, we come to understand that whilethese sorts of changes can and do begin to occur in ourlives, mindfulness practice is also nurturing in us a way of understandthe world which complements our everyday mind. In addition to theobservable separateness of things, we begin to understand that there isalso an underlying connectedness or interdependence or interbeingnessof things. And this new perspective may radically alter our lives.

In the Buddhist tradition, this distinction between separateness andconnectedness, sometimes referred to as the historical and the ultimatedimensions, is often depicted with the simile of the wave and thewater. In Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers, Thich Nhat Hanh explains: 

We know that the wave is thewater, and we know that the water is the ground of the wave. The wavesuffers because she forgets this fundamental fact. When she comparesherself to other waves, she suffers. She has anger, jealousy, and fearbecause she is unable to touch the ground of her being, which is water.If the wave is capable of deeply touching the water, her ground ofbeing, she will transcend her fear, jealousy and all kinds of suffering.

By touching this ultimatedimension, we get the greatest relief. We have to practice in our dailylife so that we will be able to touch the ultimate. You can touch theultimate when you drink a cup of tea or when you practice walkingmeditation.

This Thursday, after our meditation period, we will practice the “ThreeTouchings of the Earth,” a guided movement meditation, as a way ofreminding ourselves of our connectedness, especially ourconnectedness to our ancestors and descendants, and to all those withwhom we share this earth. (The full text of the “Three Touchings isavailable here.)

You are invited to practice with us this Thursday. The best times to join us are:

  • Just before the first sitting at 7 pm
  • At 7:25, at the beginning of walking meditation; or,
  • At 7:35, at the beginning of the second sitting.

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher