Dear Still Water Friends,
This past week I, along with several other members of the Still Water community, returned from a three week retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village in southeastern France. The theme of the retreat was The Science of the Buddha. In his talks Thich Nhat Hanh wove together concrete mindfulness practices, ancient Buddhist teachings on mind and reality, and modern perspectives and findings from quantum physics.
This Thursday evening you are invited to experience a piece of the retreat. After our sitting meditation, we will watch a 25 minute segment from the June 3rd Dharma talk in which Thay explains the importance of Right View. Right View is an element of the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha’s training program for self-transformation and liberation. In the talk, Thich Nhat Hanh explains:
Right view is a kind of insight, a kind of deep vision, that helps you to think, to speak, and to act in the right way. . . . Right thinking is the kind of thinking that is free from discrimination, anger, fear, and illusion. When you produce a thought in alignment with right thinking, that thought will begin to heal you and heal the world. If you produce a thought full of discrimination, hate, despair, and anger, that thought begins to destroy your body and mind and to destroy the world. That is why it is very important to learn how to produce thoughts in line with right thinking. But you can do that only when you have right view. Right view is something you attain only with the practice of mindfulness and concentration.
Later in the talk Thich Nhat Hanh explains Right View using a teaching offered by the Buddha in The Sutra on the Middle Way: “Right view is a kind of view that is free from the notion of being and nonbeing.”
Suppose you draw a line from the left to the right representing time. And suppose we take one point on that line to be point B, the birth of something — our own birth. As soon as we pick this one point, discrimination begins to manifest. You are born at this point. You think that before point B you did not exist. You begin to exist only from point B. You continue until you come to point D, where you die. Most of us think in that way. We think that to be born means from nothing we become something, from no one we become some one. That is our way of thinking. And the Buddha said, “That is not right thinking."
(The line drawn by Thich Nhat Hanh)
Our definition of birth is that from the realm of nonbeing you pass into the realm of being. So that segment ending in B represents nonbeing. And the segment beginning with B is being. You continue being until you come to point D, and then you have to pass from the realm of being into the realm of nonbeing again. That kind of thinking is described by the Buddha as wrong thinking. Ultimate reality transcends the notion of being and nonbeing, transcends the notion of birth and death. Being and nonbeing, birth and death are creations of our mind. This is the beginning of the Buddha’s science of happiness.
We hope you can join us for the sitting, the video, and a Dharma discussion with several of us who attended the retreat..
You are are also invited to join us this week for a brief orientation to mindfulness practice and the Still Water community. The orientation will begin at 6:30 pm. and participants are encouraged to stay for the evening program. If you would like to attend the orientation, it is helpful if you let us know by emailing us at info@StillWaterMPC.org.
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.