Dharma Topic: The Gift of Non-Fear

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Dear Still Water Friends,

As September 2 is the first Thursday of the month, we will begin our Thursday Evening gathering at 6:30 pm with an orientation to the Still Water community and to the basic mindfulness practices.Newcomers and old-timers are invited to ask questions and share experiences.

After our 7:30 sitting, we will recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings and focus our Dharma Discussion on the second training on loving-kindness. The training reads:

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to cultivating loving kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals.

I am committed to practicing generosity by sharing my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.

Thich Nhat Hanh explains this training inTouching Peace:

[This second training is] about awareness of suffering and cultivating loving kindness. We may have the capacity of being generous, but we must also develop specific ways to express our generosity. Time is more than money. Time is for bringing joy and happiness to other people and thus to ourselves. There are three kinds of gifts-the gift of material resources, the gift of helping people rely on themselves, and the gift of non-fear. Helping people not be destroyed by fear is the greatest gift of all.

This year, especially this month, many of usare aware not only of the poverty and suffering in the world, but also of theterror, fanaticism, and hate which is engulfing so many as perpetrators, asvictims, and sometimes both. In this darkened world, the gift of non-fear seemseven more precious.

In Transformation and Healing, ThichNhat Hanh writes:

Fear is … a dominant internal formation in many of us. The ground of fear is ignorance, the failure to understand our ‘not-self’ nature. … In Mahayana Buddhism, the bodhisatva Avalokitesvara is described as the one who has transcended all fear. He offers all beings the gift of non-fear (S: abhaya), which comes from the mindful observation of the no-birth, no-death, no-increase, and no-decrease nature of all that is.

Non-fear, or fear, are not things we own,things we possess, but how we live our lives, how we make decisions, how wepractice.

The question for our discussion will be: Wheredo you see fear in your life? Where do you glimpse non-fear?

You are invited to join us this Thursday forthe orientation, the sitting, the recitation, and the discussion.

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher