Silver Spring, Maryland, community online on Thursday evening
March 19, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Open to all online on Friday evening
This Thursday we will read and discuss the passage “A Life of Miracles” from The Sun My Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh. What I love about this reading is that it captures the simplicity of mindfulness practice by reminding us to simply notice all the miracles in our lives. It reminded me of how fragmented my practice becomes when I am dealing with stress. Many times during the day, I notice the beautiful things around me, and many more times each day I lose track of the beauty because my mind is away on some far off problem, or consumed with preparing for some future event. The reading reminded me that the essence of my mindfulness practice is to train myself to remember to be mindful. By reading this, I realized that I have been forgetting to use some of those tools and strategies and as a result have I have been neglecting notice the miracles in my life.
As we sit down next to a stream, we can listen to its laughter and watch its sparkling waters, noticing the pebbles glistening and the fresh green plants nearby, and we may be overcome with happiness. We are one with the stream’s freshness, purity, and clarity. But in just an instant we may find we’ve had enough. Our heart is troubled, and we think of other things. We are no longer at one with the stream.
It is of no use to sit in a peaceful forest if our mind is lost in the city. When we live with a child or a friend, their freshness and warmth can relax us. But if our heart is not with them, their precious presence is neglected, and they no longer exist. We must be aware of them to appreciate their value, to allow them to be our happiness. If through carelessness and forgetfulness we become dissatisfied with them, and begin asking too much of them or reprimanding them, we will lose them. Only after they are gone will we realize their preciousness and feel regret. But once they are gone, all our regrets are in vain.
Around us, life bursts forth with miracles—a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.
Have a look at the apple tree in your yard. Look at it with complete attention. It is truly a miracle. If you notice it, you will take good care of it, and you too are part of its miraculousness. Even after you have cared for it for only a week, its leaves are already greener and shinier. It is exactly the same with the people who are around you. Under the influence of awareness, you become more attentive, understanding, and loving, and your presence not only nourishes you and makes you lovelier, it enhances them as well. Our entire society can be changed by one person’s peaceful presence.
Our minds create everything. The majestic mountaintop, brilliant with snow, is you yourself when you contemplate it. Its existence depends on your awareness. When you close your eyes, as long as your mind is present, the mountain is there. Sitting in meditation, with several sense-windows closed, you feel the presence of the whole universe. Why? Because the mind is there. If your eyes are closed, it is so that you can see better. The sights and sounds of the world are not your enemies. Your enemy is forgetfulness, the absence of mindfulness.
We will begin our Dharma sharing with these questions:
- What tools and strategies do you use in your mindfulness practice to help you to stay focused on the present moment?
- How does stress impact your ability to be mindful?
- What miracles did you witness today?