This Monday night Mick will facilitate. He shares:
There is a Plum Village song that begins,
"Breathing in I go back to the island within myself".
The song continues about the beautiful trees and fresh air within the island. We all know that going to the island of self does not always entail meeting with scenic environs. The flip side of this song would include lyrics that say there are storms and rain clouds within the island. Whether or not our island is a place of beautiful trees, or rain clouds, the key thing to remember is that this island is always only an in breath, or a mindful step away. Thay's teachings are in great part about coming home to the island of self in the context of taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Again and again, Thay speaks of this revolutionary act of coming home in the midst of our loneliness and disconnect. In a talk from December 13, 2012 Thay spoke on home and loneliness, Thay shared:
Loneliness is the ill being of our time. We feel very lonely, even if we are surrounded by many people. We are lonely together. There is a vacuum inside of us where we don't feel comfortable, so we try to fill it up so the loneliness will disappear. Technology provides us with a lot of ways to stay connected. We stay connected but we continue to feel lonely. We are busy the whole day trying to connect, but that does not help with loneliness. There is an illusion of connection. How can you connect with another person when you cannot connect with yourself? We walk but we don't know that we are walking. We are alive, but we don't know that we are alive. And that is happening almost all day long. So the act of sitting down is and act of revolution. When you sit down you collect yourself... You just sit down mindfully and breathe in. So the teaching of the Buddha of going home to the island of oneself is the way to heal our society and heal ourselves. The way out is in.
Coming home to the island of self is a revolutionary step and often a difficult journey. There are two parts to coming home to the island. The first step is coming back to the present moment to be with your body, your breathing, your walking, your drinking tea. Here we have arrived. "I have arrived, I am home". The next step (just in time for the holidays) is visiting this home, this island of self. As I mentioned before, our home on any given day could be a place of freshness or stormy weather. Coming home is the key and the fruit of our practice. In the scope of mindfulness practice it is imperative that we come back to the island of self, but not be an island unto ourselves. In order to visit our home and be with all that lies within we need support. That support comes from taking refuge in The Buddha(Awakened One), Dharma (Teachings of love and understanding), and Sangha (Community that lives in harmony and awareness).
Mindfulness is not a tool that rids our mind of thoughts, worry, and sadness. It is a path. A path that entails coming home to be with all that life has to offer.
This home, this island of self is a refuge, a refuge within the refuge of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha that Thich Nhat Hanh offers us as a road map for finding our way back home again (below is an excerpt from the Refuge Chant followed by an fuller explanation from the Plum Village website).
This Monday, after our usual sitting and walking meditations, we will explore what refuge means in our own lives:
What does taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, mean to you?
What are your refuges?
How do you find your way there?
What supports you in this action?
I hope you will join us in sharing your experiences, questions, and insights.