Dear Still Water Friends,
This week is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the first day of Summer. The tradition of marking the start of Summer with the solstice comes to us from the Ancient Greeks and Romans, who understood that this was the start of a long, hot season.
But as the Mediterranean people saw the solstice as the start of Summer, the Celtic people of far northern Europe had a very different understanding. They carefully charted the course of the Sun through the year (always a little afraid that the long, dark Winter may not end). They marked the start of Summer as half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice (a holiday we barely remember as May Day). The Celts understood that by the solstice, Summer was half over, the days would only get shorter, and Fall would soon be here and then it would be Winter again–the same day, but two very different understandings from two different perspectives.
On Thursday, we will consider how our perspective, our perception, greatly influences whether we are happy or we suffer. In The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh says:
The source of our perception, our way of seeking lies in our store consciousness. If ten people look at a cloud, there will be ten different perceptions of it. Whether it is perceived as a dog, a hammer, or a coat depends on our mind—our sadness, our memories, our anger. Our perceptions carry with them all the errors of subjectivity. Then we praise, blame, condemn, or complain depending on our perceptions. But our perceptions are made of our afflictions—craving, anger, ignorance, wrong views, and prejudice. Whether we are happy or we suffer depends largely on our perceptions. It is important to look deeply at our perceptions and know their source.
Please join us Thursday evening.
Lotuses, Food, and Mindful Friends. Sunday, July 15, 2012, at the the National Park Service’s Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens.
Coming Home to Ourselves: A Day of Practice. Sunday, July 29, at Blueberry Gardens in Ashton, Maryland.