The Joy of Commitment

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Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will recite together the five mindfulness trainings and focus our discussion on the second training, on loving kindness and generosity, and also on the notion of commitment, which is part of each of the trainings.

This past Saturday many Still Water members attended, and were deeply touched by, a five mindfulness and fourteen mindfulness transmission ceremony held by the Washington area mindfulness communities. As I later described the event to others, I kept coming back to the energy of joyful commitment which seemed to envelope the room and the event.

To receive the five trainings or the fourteen trainings is to make a commitment to a direction for one’s life, a commitment to embodying that which is wholesome, holy, life-giving. However, rather than the heaviness of taking on new burdens, the room seemed charged by lightness and joy. One could see it in the faces of those receiving the trainings, and also, in the faces of those who were there to support and to celebrate those receiving the trainings.

In looking for commentary on how commitment brings joy, I found that one of the clearest statement came from a Starbucks cup. InThe Way I See It series, Ann Morriss writes:

The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.


You are invited to join us this Thursday for our meditation,our recitation, and our discussion. Below are the text of the secondtraining and also an excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh on the energy onereceives when one commits to the mindfulness trainings (or precepts asthey are sometimes called).

Also, several people have emailed me recently that they heard on public radio a wonderful program about Thich Nhat Hanh returning to Vietnam in 2006. The program can be heard anytime on the“Speaking of Faith” website, and they have there also several videos of Dharma Talks given by Thich Nhat Hanh. The url is .

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner
Senior Teacher

The Second Mindfulness Training

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice,stealing, and oppression, I am committed to cultivating loving kindnessand learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals,plants, and minerals.

I am committed to practicing generosity bysharing my time, energy, and material resources with those who are inreal need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anythingthat should belong to others. I will respect the property of others,but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or thesuffering of other species on Earth.

Receiving the Five Wonderful Precepts

An excerpt from For a Future to Be Possible by Thich Nhat Hanh

In Buddhist circles, one of the first expressions of our desire to practice the way of understanding and love is to formally receive the Five Wonderful Precepts from a teacher. During the ceremony, the teacher reads each precept, and then the student repeats it and vows to study, practice, and observe the precept read. It is remarkable to see the peace and happiness in someone the moment she receives the precepts. Before making the decision to receive them, she may have felt confused, but with the decision to practice the precepts, many bonds of attachment and confusion are cut. After the ceremony is over, you can see in her face that she has been liberated to a great extent.

When you vow to observe even one precept, that strong decision arising from your insight leads to real freedom and happiness. The community is there to support you and to witness the birth of your insight and determination. A precepts ceremony has the power of cutting through, liberating, and building. After the ceremony, if you continue to practice the precepts, looking deeply in order to have deeper insight concerning reality, your peace and liberation will increase.The way you practice the precepts reveals the depth of your peace and the depth of your insight.