Dear Still Water Friends,
Mitchell has often shared his encounter with a senior Japanese monk who was staying at Plum Village. He asked the monk, who was from a different Zen tradition, why he was staying at Plum Village. As I recall the story, the monk said that he wanted to be with Thich Nhat Hanh because of his wonderful presence. The monk noted that Thay was the rare person who could hold the sorrows of the world and still enjoy a cookie.
This Thursday, Garrett and Jane Phelan will facilitate a Dharma sharing about "accepting/finding happiness in the present moment even when we or others we care about are suffering." Garrett and Jane are members of the Order of Interbeing who practice with the Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax. They have offered two readings below to help frame the evening and encourage sharing from the heart.
I hope you can join and share with us.
Follow Mitchell’s blog as he travels to Scotland and Plum Village here.
A Brief for the Defense
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.
(from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, transcribed by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps)
Buddha told a parable in a sutra:
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of a root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted.
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