Dear Still Water Friends,
In his year-end Dharma talk, just before the beginning of 2014, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) posed this question: Will the New Year really be a new year, or will it be just a repetition of the old year? Thay’s answer was that it depends on us.
So in order for the New Year to be new, you have to renew yourself. You have to make yourself new. That is why in Plum Village this year we have the sentence: “New Year, New Me.” I need to have a new me in order to really enjoy the New Year. …
If we know the practice of mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful dealing with pain, sorrow, and anger, we can improve the quality of our actions, improve the quality of our life, improve the quality of our days, and months, and years.
This year Thay is in the hospital and not able to give his customary year-end talk. But his energy and his insights are still very much with us. He continues to touch our lives. And we continue to touch his. As you prepare for the New You to emerge in the New Year, I encourage you to send healing energy and support to Thay and the monastic community.
Because of the New Year’s holiday, there will be will be no Thursday evening gathering at Crossings and no Thursday morning meditation at the Takoma Park Presbyterian Church.
However, the Still Water community will gather on Thursday, January 1st, to greet the New Year at our annual New Year’s Day Vegetarian Potluck Brunch. You are invited to attend with your friends and family. We will gather again this year at the Silver Spring home of Ellen Weiss, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 1 or so. Please register online to let us know you will be there.
On Saturday, January 3, there will be a Washington DC Area Transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings Ceremony in Oakton, Virginia. All are welcome.
The first meeting of the Deepening Our Practice: What Happens When We Die? study group, originally scheduled for January 4th (What were we thinking?), has been rescheduled for Sunday, January 18th. It will be an eight session study group for experienced practitioners meeting on Sunday afternoons alternately in Columbia, Maryland, and Takoma Park.
Two January events are especially appropriate for those wishing to begin or deepen their mindfulness practice.
- On Monday, Jan 12, there will be A Calm Mind and A Joyful Heart: An Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation. 7:00 to 8:30 pm, at Crossings in Silver Spring.
- On Monday, January 26, there will be the first meeting of Smiling Like a Buddha: A Ten-Session Mindfulness Meditation Class. 7:00 to 9:00 pm at Crossings in Silver Spring.
You are warmly invited to join the community for these events.
Below is an excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Dharma Talk of December 29, 2013. A video of the talk is available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNCfCpHJnHg&t=3m28s.
Warm wishes for the New Year — may it bring you, and those dear to you, peace, joy, and light.
New Year, New Me
by Thich Nhat Hanh, from his December 29, 2013, Dharma talk at Plum Village
When we sit together and breathe together, we can hear the sound of the rain. The sound of the rain is also a wonder of life. In us and around us there are wonders of life. With mindfulness we can get in touch with them, and that can help nourish us and heal us. That is why mindfulness is a source of healing and nourishment. Mindfulness does not come from the outside. We can generate the energy of mindfulness by walking, sitting, breathing, and doing things. We can do everything mindfully.
We think there are two more days and then the year 2013 will be gone. Is that true? The year 2013 is going to die, is going to go away? Can we speak about the birth of a year or the death of a year? This is an object of meditation. We know that the notions of a month, a day, and a hour are invented by us. They are conventional designations, like the Euro, the Dollar. They are invented by our minds. The value of these things depend very much on our way of thinking. So the notion of year is also a notion that we have fabricated. These things are first of all a notion that we have fabricated. These things are first of all conventional designations – “a year.” What does it mean to die? To die means that from “being” you suddenly go to the realm of “non-being.” Will that happen to the year 2013. In two days there will no more be a 2013. And the year 2014: we think that it is not there yet. It will come in two days, and we can speak about the birth of a year.
Where is it now, the year 2014? Can we touch it? And the New Year, can be really a New Year? Or is it just a repetition of the old year? It depends very much on us.
Now the year is ending. And we should be able to ask ourselves these simple questions. What have I done during the year 2013? Have I been able to produce feelings of joy and happiness during my days? Have I learned to produce a feeling of joy, a feeling of happiness, every day during the year 2013?
We have learned that with mindfulness we can produce a feeling of joy, a feeling of happiness, whenever we want. Because we are a practitioner, we should be able to fabricate, to produce, a moment of joy, a moment of happiness. We know what ingredients we need in order to produce a feeling of joy, a feeling of happiness for ourselves and the people we love.
As we are practitioners, we should be able to handle a painful feeling, a painful emotion. We should know how to calm down a painful feeling, a painful emotion. Or even transform it into something better, like compassion, friendship, forgiveness. Because pain and pleasure are all organic. It is like love and hate, they are of an organic nature. If you don’t know how to handle love, it can turn into something else, like anger or hate. If you know how to handle hate and anger, you can turn it back into understanding and love. All these things we can learn as a practitioner of mindfulness. And if we do not master the practice of generating joy and happiness, if we do not know how to handle painful feelings and emotions, we are going to repeat them in the New Year — and the New Year will not be very new. It is only a repetition of the old year.
So in order for the New Year to be new, you have to renew yourself. You have to make yourself new. That is why in Plum Village this year we have the sentence: “New Year, New Me.” I need to have a new me in order to really enjoy the New Year. We have two days more in order to prepare ourselves in order to have a new “us,” so that we can really enjoy the New Year. The year is time and time is linked to space and action. In some Buddhist schools, people think of space as unconditioned, unconditioned dharma. But we know now that space is made of non-space elements. Space is made of matter, speed, time, and of many other conditions. So space is also a conditioned dharma.
The year that is going to end, that is our invention, our fabrication, our product. The value of the year depends on our way of acting, our way of living our life. The value of the year depends on our way of life. If we know the practice of mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful dealing with pain, sorrow, and anger, we can improve the quality of our actions, improve the quality of our life, improve the quality of our days, and months, and years.
Sun, January 23
Columbia, MDEvening Practice at the Yoga Center of Columbia 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
|Mon, January 24||
Tue, January 25
Gaithersburg, MDEvening Practice at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Wed, January 26
Stevensville, MDEvening Practice in Stevensville, Maryland 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Silver Spring, MDSpanish-Speaking Practice at Silver Spring Library 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Thu, January 27
||Fri, January 28||Sat, January 29|