A Trip to Thay’s Homeland

A Trip to Thay’s Homeland

A Trip to Thay’s Homeland

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh said, “It is probable that the next buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving-kindness.”

In October 2022 Daniel Smith and I experienced this community practicing together during a homeland retreat led by Dharma Teacher Trish Thompson in Vietnam. We brought thoughts of our Midwest Moon brothers and sisters with us on every step!

The journey began for many of us in Hanoi, Vietnam. We came from California, Missouri, North Carolina, Singapore, and places in between. We experienced deep connection with our teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and our global sangha. Together we supported one another through an outbreak of Covid-19, Trish’s bronchial infection, and my asthma. (One traveler dubbed us the Contemplative Coughing Chorus of Compassion Sangha!) We took care of one another and practiced loving-kindness at each juncture during this 17-day journey.

There were countless experiences of Thay’s vision. Here’s a single day of my experience traveling mindfully to see our global sangha in action:

Departing Hanoi for Hue, Vietnam we nestled in along the perfume river at the Eco Lodge. Hue is a city in central Vietnam with a population of nearly a half million people. The city was once the old imperial city (1802-1884) then the administrative capital during the French occupation, the site of a major military engagement in the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War, and the location of Thay’s root temple, Tu Hien. Layer upon layer of history.

Our traveling community rose at 4:00AM on our first day in Hue to join our monastic sisters for morning meditation at Tu Hien Temple. Night-blooming jasmine lined the walkway at the Eco Lodge, the scent deep and rich as we walked in mindful silence to the bus. Arriving at the monastery one could hear a dog barking and roosters crowing; then the bell began to sound. We found cushions in the meditation hall, found our places, and enjoyed our sitting practice.

As the sun brightened the room and we rose from our cushions, I looked over to see Uncle Dan, a long time practitioner and supporter from the Magnolia Grove monastery in Batesville, Mississippi. We embraced and smiled at one another with disbelief.

Standing downstairs I was introduced to David. Now teaching English as a second language in Hue, he hails from St. Louis. Later that morning we celebrated the marriage of a couple from the Eurasia Foundation. They work with The Peaceful Bamboo Family, a vocational training center and living community for young adults in Hue.

Then I saw another smile I recognized: a nun who lived for three years at Magnolia Grove, now living at Tu Hien. Sister invited us to the nuns’ meditation hall where we were served tea. We began by holding the cup in our two hands. We inhaled the scent of the tea, paused, and smiled. Only then did we sip the tea. I felt the warmth on my tongue, in my mouth, and swallowing I experienced deep peace. We enjoyed tea and dharma sharing. Next we were invited on a tour of Thay’s hut where he passed away in January 2022. Trish shared memories of the last days with Thay and the ceremony following his passing. His presence can still be felt in the space, calm and steady.

We left Thay’s hut as the sun began to set. We walked mindfully and silently down the stone steps, around the half-moon pond, and departed through the Tu Hien Pagoda arched gateways. We walked in Thay’s steps. We are Thay’s continuation.

In Love and Peace,

 

Lori Dowd

True Transmission of Joy

annie mahon author

Annie Mahon Guest Dharma Teacher

SATURDAY TEACHER SERIES

Annie Mahon guest teacher on Saturday, December 17, 2022

Annie Mahon is a Dharma Teacher in the Plum Village tradition of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.  Annie has taught mindfulness since 2002 and is founder of the Circle Yoga Cooperative and the Opening Heart Mindfulness Community, a meditation community in Washington D.C. This month, Annie joins us for mindfulness online in St. Louis!

As an author, Annie writes the popular blog, rawmindfulness.com. This led to a book of collected essays, Words to be With, and the open and honest Things I Did When I was Hangry (Parallax Press) which documents her search for sanity in her eating disordered family life, and reveals how mindfulness helped her go beyond the search for perfection and learn to love the moment as it is.

Annie holds certifications in yoga, Health Coaching, Inner Relationship Focusing, is licensed in Massage Therapy, and holds one B.S. and two Master’s degrees, one in Computer Science and one in Religious Studies.

As a Dharma teacher Annie continues to integrate her practice into all aspects of her daily life, supports the Opening Heart Mindfulness Community and the Making-Visible project, explores Dharma and economic justice with others, and practices being of service to the ARISE community.

For more information check out Raw Mindfulness.

annie mahon author

annie mahon dharma teacher

Book Club

Book Club – America’s Racial Karma

MONDAY NIGHT BOOK CLUB – AMERICA’S RACIAL KARMA

America’s Racial Karma by Larry Ward, PhD

7:00PM Central

Begins Monday, September 12, 2022

Thank you for reading America’s Racial Karma with the Midwest Moon Sangha book study. Together, we can learn to heal, as well as deepen our practice. As discussions of race can be challenging, we invite you to help us create a space in which everyone feels safe to share.

 

America's Racial Karma by Larry Ward PhD

 

Join us as we explore this immediate, illuminating, and hopeful book on breaking America’s cycle of racial trauma.

For the study guide, please email info@midwestmoon.com

 

Mindfulness Online

HOW TO JOIN US FOR MINDFULNESS ONLINE AND IN PERSON

ZOOM LINK

 

Dear Friends,

If you’re new to meditation – or to online mindfulness practice – welcome!

Mindfulness is a kind of energy that we generate when we bring our mind back to our body and get in touch with what is going on in the present moment, within us and around us. We become aware of our breathing and come home to our body, fully present for ourselves and whatever we are doing.

We offer our Saturday Morning mindfulness practice in person and zoom from 9-10:30AM. This practice includes shared sitting and walking meditation, a short dharma reading, and dharma sharing.

You can also practice mindfulness online with us during the week. All you need is a phone or a computer. Mindfulness is not hard work. It’s very pleasant and relaxing, and we don’t need extra time to do it. There’s an art to finding creative ways to generate the energy of mindfulness, peace, and happiness in everyday life. These morning and evening practice times are simple meditation sits for 20-25 minutes.

Meditation During the Week

ZOOM LINK

Monday 7-7:20AM CST

Monday 7-7:20PM CST 

Tuesday 7-7:20AM CST

Tuesday 7-7:20 PM CST

Wednesday 7-7:20AM CST

Wednesday 5-6:00PM CST – FULL SANGHA

Thursday 7-7:20AM CST

Thursday 7-7:20PM CST

Friday 7-7:20AM CST

Friday 7-7:20PM CST

Saturday 9-10:30AM CST – FULL SANGHA (Hybrid)

 

The Facilitators at Midwest Moon Sangha

Pamela, Daniel, Peggy, Patrick, Kevin, Sheryll, Debbie, Joe, Betsy & Lori

Our Practice Location

Saturday Mornings 9:00 am to 10:30 am

Wehrli Chapel in Press Hall

475 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves MO 63119

 

On the campus of Eden Theological Seminary. The chapel is in Press Hall, 2nd floor. Press is the building with the tower.

Once folks get to campus there is ample parking (especially on Saturday morning). There are visitor spots along the edge of the lot that is proximate to Press Hall (the building with the tower). We recommend that people enter the door on the east side of the building. If you need handicap access, that is available through the courtyard/quad and the automatic doors at the center of the buidling off the quad. There is an elevator that can take you to the second floor. The Wehrli Chapel is on the second floor at the center of the building.

Here’s a link to campus directions and map:

Our morning  consists of members leading us in: Sitting meditation, approximately 20 minutes, walking meditation, approximately 10 minutes and sitting meditation, approximately 20 minutes. Chairs are provided, or you can bring your own cushion. Dharma discussion is led by members of the Sangha.

Trish Thompson

Trish Thompson Guest Dharma Teacher

Saturday Sangha Dharma Talk Speaker Series

Trish Thompson

Trish Thompson, Chan An Dinh (True Concentration on Peace) is a Dharma Teacher in the Plum Village tradition, ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh in 2011. Trish has been living and building community in Viet Nam for seventeen years. She also serves as the supporting lay Dharma Teacher for Singapore and Malaysia and smaller Sangas throughout the SE Asia region.

As the founder and managing director of the Loving Work Foundation, a charitable organization registered in her home state of South Carolina, Trish works to fulfill its mission to improve the lives of children and families in Viet Nam. She does this by liaising with small local humanitarian projects and a network of local friends.

To support her personal mission to continue the spirit of her teachers, Thay and Sister Chan Khong, by deepening understanding between people of differing cultures, Trish and her friends organize and lead annual retreats within Viet Nam for international practitioners.

Trish’s earlier background and concrete information regarding the retreats and other work of the foundation may be found at www.lovingworkfoundation.org.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.

Book Club – One Buddha is Not Enough

Monday Night Book Club – One Buddha is Not Enough

by the facilitators: Armando, Debbie, Patrick

“It’s time to find and become the Buddha within ourselves. No one can do it for us … We must abandon the hope that Thay, or anyone else, will hand it to us, or be it for us. It’s up to us. It’s up to me.” These words were written by one of the attendees at the 2009 Colorado Plum Village retreat that Thay was unable to attend. This insight, along with writings from numerous other retreatants, became part of the book, One Buddha is Not Enough.

When Midwest Moon Sangha selected this book in November 2021 for our book study, we had no idea how apt this sentiment would become for us. We began our meetings in early February of 2022, just a few weeks after our beloved teacher’s continuation. We found ourselves in much the same place as those nearly 1000 retreatants, wondering how we could possibly continue in our practice without Thay’s wisdom, gentle guidance, and light. However, just as the retreatants and monastics learned to recognize the presence of the Buddha and Thay in one another, our book group members realized that Thay was present within our sangha. To be sure, some of us expressed doubts that we could embody Thay with all our imperfections, but we leaned on the idea that Buddhism is a practice, not a perfection. We found comfort in interbeing with one another, the retreatants, the monastics, Thay, and the Buddha.

Our book study was far different from any other book club most of us had experienced, as we didn’t discuss the book. Instead, each week, we prepared by reading one chapter and making use of the excellent study guides provided by the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation. In the TNHF guide, a monastic or lay dharma teacher shared favorite quotes from the chapter, perhaps offered a short recorded talk about the content, and wrote a few open-ended questions. During our meetings, we went around the Zoom “room,” and each participant reflected on a question of their choosing. In this way, we always stayed on topic and never got into debates about how to interpret a particular section of the book.

Several beautiful things occurred during these sessions. First, our members were so open and vulnerable, sharing deeply to provide their perspectives and listening deeply to widen their perspectives. Second, if several people chose the same question, they each answered it differently. Thus, within 45 minutes, we received three or four tag-team dharma talks, allowing us to revel in the multi-faceted beauty of the dharma and the wonder of going as a river which allowed for the deepening of our practice. Third, occasionally, a participant voiced disagreement with the book, and this was ok! As the First Mindfulness Training in the Order of Interbeing says, “we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones.” Finally, we all greatly benefitted from hearing from our sangha sibling Win Grace, who had been at that Colorado retreat and shared her experiences with us, helping to bring the retreat off the pages and into our imaginations and hearts.

We had decided at the outset that we would call our book study a success even if some sessions were attended by only the three facilitators. We were so pleased that 29 people joined at least one session, and no session had fewer than 13 people. Moreover, ten people were so enthusiastic that they came back for an extra “recap” session to share thoughts on what they liked, what they would like to change, and what book to consider for the Fall of 2022.

Overwhelmingly, our sangha members expressed how much they appreciated the prepared study guides from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation. The only changes suggested were to extend the meetings from 45 minutes to an hour so that everyone can share fully and to include a brief meditation at the start. We look forward to incorporating these suggestions into our following book study, which will occur in the Fall.

ORDER BOOK HERE.

 

parallax press one buddha

Practicing Mindfulness with Children

Practicing Mindfulness with Children

St. Louis Planting Seeds – Practicing Mindfulness with Children

COVID-19 Precautions – We are not currently meeting in person but please join us online Saturday Morning!

Come join us with your children for meditation, movement, and community at St Louis Planting Seeds – Practicing Mindfulness with Children. Practices and activities based on the teachings of Engaged Buddhism by Thich Nhat Hanh will give children and the adults in their lives tools to practice mindfulness in daily life. These events are for adults, children, and families of all configurations and faiths (no need to be a Buddhist to practice, mindfulness is for everyone).  They are for people of all physical and mental abilities, including those with limited mobility and/or vision and hearing. Children of all ages are welcome to attend with adults important to them. We meet once monthly at the Daniel Boone branch of the St Louis County Library.

St. Louis Planting Seeds Practicing Mindfulness with Children

Wietske Vriezen, Illustrator

Schedule and room number information:

Day: Saturday

Time: 3-4pm

Location: Daniel Boone Branch of the St. Louis County Library (300 Clarkson Rd, Ellisville, MO 63011)

2019:

November 9th:  Meeting Room 2 (DB)
December 7th: Meeting Room 2 (DB)

2020:

January 11th: Meeting Room 2 (DB)
February 22nd: Meeting Room 2 (DB)
March 21st: Meeting Room 2 (DB) – Postponed
April 18th: Meeting Room 2 (DB) – Postponed
May 16th: Meeting Room 2 (DB) – Postponed
June 13th: Meeting Room 2 (DB) – Postponed

Donations to help pay for the room and supplies are accepted but never expected, your presence is more than enough. Please contact stlplantingseeds@gmail.com with any questions.

The World We Have

 

JOIN US FOR A BOOK STUDY

The Midwest Moon Sangha is beginning a book study twice a month starting with Thay’s book “The World We Have” © 2008 Parallax Press.

Meetings will begin Saturday, September 21, 2019 following the normal sangha gathering. We will plan to cover at least one chapter per meeting. Everyone will be asked to read the chapter prior to the meeting and come prepared to answer two questions regarding the chapter. The questions are:

  • What one sentence in this week’s reading had the most impact for me?
  • What one thing might we do in the coming weeks as a result of our discussion today?

 

The World We Have by Thich Nhat Hanh Book Study Schedule
Chapter # Chapter Title From Page # To Page # Total Pages Date for Discussion
1 The Bells of Mindfulness 1 5 5 21-Sep
2 A Global Ethic 7 16 10 5-Oct
3 Diet For A Mindful Planet 17 32 16 19-Oct
4 Nature And Violence 33 42 10 2-Nov
5 Overcoming Fear 43 57 15 16-Nov
6 A Beautiful Continuation 61 67 7 7-Dec
7 Caring For The Environmentalist 69 78 10 21-Dec
8 The City With Only One Tree 79 85 7 4-Jan
9 Transforming Our Communities 87 94 8 18-Jan
10 The Eyes of the Elephant Queen 95 101 7 1-Feb
Wrap-Up Summarize Entire Book 15-Feb
Thich Nhat Hanh Caligraphy

Special Events

 

Thich Nhat Hanh Caligraphy

INTEGRATING EARTH HOLDER PRACTICES

IN SANGHA LIFE

As part of our commitment to integrate Earth Holders practices in our Sangha life, we have chosen to participate at the Missouri River Clean ups organized by Missouri River Relief.

Missouri River Clean Up is a community, volunteer and equipment-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to connecting people to the Missouri River through hands-on river clean-ups, education events and stewardship activities.”

Missouri River Relief 

Earth Holder Community

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Sangha Is The Key

"It is difficult to make change alone. In the Sangha--the community of people who share the path of spiritual practice--there is a powerful collective energy of mindfulness and concentration. It cam help us make a breakthrough; it ignites our insight.