The Vitality of Our Dreams

Altar created and photographed by Brian Smith for the Still Water October online retreat.

The Vitality of Our Dreams

Discussion date: Thu, Nov 04, 2021 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

Two recent Thursday and Friday evening programs have taken us on a journey together. The first evenings focused on Thay’s understanding that spirituality is “a path for us to generate happiness, understanding, and love.” The next week this led to the question “How is Thay able to be so present and serene?” We focused especially on how he is comfortable and at ease being just who he is, wherever he is. In the video we watched, he explained how his community managed to not take sides and remain focused on reconciliation during the horrific civil war in Vietnam:

Many millions of people misunderstood us and yet we still continued with our path, because we had belief in our values. I think if you continue to practice like that you will be solid as a mountain. You will not be assaulted by any kind of opinions.

How do we do that? How do we identify and commit to our values? In The Art of Living Thay reflects on the role of deep intentions, values, dreams, and ultimate concerns in his life:

I was once asked by a journalist in Holland, “Do you have anything left you want to do before you die?” I didn’t know how to answer her, because she was not very familiar with the teachings. So the best I could do was simply to look at her and smile.

The truth is I really don’t feel that there is anything I have to do before I die, because the way I see it, I won’t ever die. And the things I want to do, I’ve been doing for a long time already. In any case, in the ultimate dimension, there is nothing more to do. As a thirty-year-old monk during the war in Vietnam, I wrote a poem with the lines “Dear ones, the work of rebuilding may take thousands of lifetimes, but this work was already completed thousands of lifetimes ago.” In the ultimate dimension, there is nothing for us to do. To practice aimlessness doesn’t mean that we don’t have a dream or aspiration. It means to stay in touch with the ultimate dimension in the present moment, so we can realize our dreams with joy, ease, and freedom.

Every one of us has a deep desire to realize something in our lifetime. Whether or not you are aware of it, deep in your heart there is something you’ve always wanted to accomplish. Not just a fleeting wish but a deep intention that may have begun to grow in your heart while you were still very young. This is your dearest dream, your ultimate concern. When you identify and nurture your deepest desire, it can become a source of great happiness, energy, and motivation. It can provide you with drive, with direction. It can sustain you through difficult moments.

Our dream gives us vitality. It gives our life meaning.

Everyone has a dream. You need to take the time to be still, to look deeply, and to listen to your heart to find out what your deepest desire is. Is it to have a lot of money, power, fame, or sex, or is it something else? What do you really want to do with your life? You should not wait until you are already old to ask yourself these questions. Once you can identify your deepest intention, you have a chance to be true to yourself, to live the kind of life you’d like to live, and to be the kind of person you’d like to be.

This Thursday and Friday evenings, after our meditation period, we will explore together the role deep intentions, values, dreams, and ultimate concerns have had and now have in our lives:

  • What in The Art of Living excerpt above touches you or moves you?
  • What are the challenges you’ve encountered as you endeavored to identify and commit to your deep intentions, values and dreams?
  • What has helped you?

You are invited to join us this Thursday and Friday evenings.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings are also a way of committing to our deep intentions. From November 11 until December 17 we will explore one of the trainings each week during our regular gatherings — please see announcements below.

Many blessings,

Mitchell Ratner


Upcoming Still Water Special Events:

  • Transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings — January 8th, 2022
    The Still Water Mindfulness Practice Center will again join with the Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax to transmit the Three Refuges and the Five Mindfulness Trainings. This year the transmission ceremony will take place online on Saturday, January 8th, 2022, beginning at 9:00 am and ending before noon (Eastern time).
  • Still Water Five Mindfulness Trainings Preparatory Classes — November 11th to December 19th, 2021
    Practitioners who are interested in receiving the trainings on January 8th are asked to participate in preparatory classes. Still Water will offer a series of five classes, between November 11th and December 17th, 2021, each exploring one of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Each of the training classes will be offered twice per week, on Thursday and Friday evenings, from 7:00 to 8:45 pm. Aspirants need only attend one of the evenings per week, though they may attend both evenings if they choose.

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in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Nov 04, 2021


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