This Monday night Camille with facilitate.
I have been thinking a lot about all the devastation that has been happening in the world recently - in particular, the natural disasters - the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, the floods in South Asia, and the fires in the west. I have been thinking about what I should be doing and worrying about what I'm not doing.
Last Sunday at our Earth Holder Sangha gathering, we discussed the theme "Celebration and Determination" as a way to process the recent lost and devastation that so many have suffered from in the recent natural disasters of our beloved mother earth. The Earth Holder Sangha is an affinity group within the Plum Village Community that is guided by Buddhist ethics and inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings. Their goal is to bring together a community that inspires a collective awakening for the future of our planet. They aim to be more conscious and aware of how much the earth gives to us, and how we can give back to her. I joined the group at a retreat in 2015 in hopes it would help my environmental activism is serving the earth and all beings.
I'm sure like me - many are trying to figure out how to celebrate and find determination amidst all the suffering. So this is what I learned from that sangha and from various readings that are helping me sort it all out:
One very positive way of thinking about celebration is to celebrate life and what's not wrong. This idea - as we have read many times in Thay's readings - can bring joy and happiness to all and help reduce suffering. Maybe celebrating all the earth has given to us rather than focusing on all that she has taken away can help us find more gratitude.
And as we overcome grief we can also celebrate. Instead of focusing on ourselves with worry, we can also celebrate and give thanks as people come together to support those that will undoubtedly become stronger after this experience.
As for determination? It's the determination to face these events without anger and without grasping for results or outcome that we can connect further in the present moment and be with their pain and discomfort in order to see it clearly. If I try not to rush or panic I will have more to offer to all. If I take the time to stop and meditate, I can find that calm and determination that our facilitator was talking about. But of course this is not always easy and often really hard for me to remember.
I have recently been reading Pema Chodron's book "When Things Fall Apart." She has inspired me, as many teachers have, when she talks about meditation in the book and how the "very moment is the perfect teacher." She says,
"How we stay in the middle between indulging and repressing is by acknowledging whatever arises without judgment, letting the thought simply dissolve, and then going back to the openness of this very moment. That's what we're actually doing in meditation. Up come all these thoughts, but rather than squelch them or obsess with them, we acknowledge them and let them go. Then we come back to just being here. We simply bring our mind back home. After a while, that's how we relate with hope and fear in our daily lives. Out of nowhere, we stop struggling and relax. We stop talking to ourselves and come back to the freshness of the present moment."
So with gratitude, appreciation and determination - I send love and light to all those who are suffering from these natural disasters and to our mother earth.
I look forward to seeing all of you and sharing a Plum Village song and some readings with you on Monday night.
In light and love,