Welcoming Spring

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Dear Still Water Friends,

Welcoming Spring
March 29, 2007

Dear Sangha,

This week, following our regularThursday evening sit, we will welcome Spring into our awareness and ourhearts, as individuals and as a Sangha. Winter is a time for rest andrepose. We find ourselves spending more time inside during Winter, awayfrom sunshine. At times, cobwebs and inactivity settle in as well.Spring arrives with much energy and movement, which at times can befrenetic and painful and at other times joyous and refreshing.

Inthe tradition of mindfulness, emphasis is often placed on the processof beginning anew. In the Beginning Anew Ceremony, as described in thePlum Village Chanting and Recitation Book, we ask as practitioners that“the balm of clear water [be poured] on the roots of our afflictions.”By coming together as a Sangha, we can create this balm, for ourselvesand for each other, thereby fostering clarity and renewal.

So, please join us in a celebration of the process of reawakening andrenewal that comes with Spring, through guided meditation, poetry, songand sharing.

A poem by Mary Oliver and a snippet from a 1998 dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh on Beginning Anew follow.

Lotuses to you, Buddhas to be.


Patti Murphy & Scott Schang


a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her –
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

~ Mary Oliver ~

On Beginning Anew, from Thich Nhat Hanh

TheBuddhist teaching on Beginning Anew is very clear: “The unskillfulnesscomes from our mind, and the unskillfulness can be transformed by ourmind. If the transformation happens in your consciousness, then theunskillfulness will disappear as a reality in the manifested world. Themind is like a painter.” This is the Buddha’s teaching, that the mindis a painter. The painter can paint anything, and the painter can eraseeverything. So if in the past you have painted something you don’tlike, and if you are determined not to paint it again, then you eraseall of that. It depends on your mind, your consciousness. If there islight, there is enlightenment in your consciousness, there is a strongdetermination, the awareness that “This is something negative, this issomething harmful, this is something not beneficial, and I amdetermined not to allow it to happen again,” and then the mind istransformed. And when the mind is transformed, liberation is alreadythere for you and all your ancestors, and if you are still caught inthat feeling of culpability, that is because you have not done the workof Beginning Anew, it means that you have not practiced looking deeplyinto your clumsiness, your lack of skillfulness. If you had, then youwould see that many conditions had come together for that action orthat sentence to become possible. And now, with your enlightenment,with your determination, you will never allow these conditions to cometogether again in order to repeat the same thing. Your awareness, yourenlightenment, is the element that will prevent these conditions comingtogether again.