Category Archives: Sangha

Serving The Ill And Dying

I began working as a healthcare chaplain in 2005, the same year I was ordained in the Order of Interbeing.  For those unfamiliar with the role, healthcare chaplains help patients cope with their changing lives using the patient’s own language of meaning, whether that language is religious, scientific, philosophical or based upon their life experiences.  This requires the chaplain to listen with compassion and respond appropriately, without proselytizing the chaplain’s own beliefs.  My chaplaincy and OI practices have grown and supported each other over the years and I’d like to share some insights into how they work together to help me serve the ill and dying. 

Precepts

Thay’s poetic and deep rendering of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings have been a constant source of inspiration, support, and correction for my chaplaincy practice.  I’ve recited the precepts every other week since becoming an aspirant, and with each recitation the precepts reveal something new, guiding me back when I’ve strayed or reminding me that, contrary to self-judgements, I’m doing ok. 

While all the precepts have at one point or another enlivened my chaplaincy, I’d like to mention a few that come up again and again.  Continue reading

Orlando and Beyond

Dear sangha, 
We are connecting with you at this time in order to encourage and support ways of practicing that can lead to personal and collective healing and transformation related to what is going on in the world. We wish to find ways we can be of support to each other as a community in responding to current events, to create loving connection rather than more trauma and fomenting fear.

The T​ransformation and Healing Committee of the Dharma Teacher Care Taking Council of North America would appreciate your sharing with the community your and your Sanghas response to recent events in Orlando. In particular, which teachings and practices are you using right now or did you use recently in your sangha in light of this event? For example we have heard that one sangha read from ​Thay’s book Calming the Fearful Mind – a Zen Repsonse to Terrorism.  Another sangha read out the names of the people who died at Orlando, sounding the bell after each name. Another sangha lit fifty candles. 

The ​Transformation and Healing Committee is charged with exploring and supporting engaged practice in the dharma teacher and OI communities. Orlando is a painful recent episode of violence. There have been many before, and given the conditions in the world now, there will be more. We can be more intentional about preparing ourselves to engage these kinds of situations by becoming more practiced in our Sanghas in processing current events, sharing the resources we use, learning skillful means from each other, and being a more active resource for the larger community. This message is going to Dharma Teachers Sangha and Order of Interbeing list with a request to forward to regional lists of Sanghas. We will also post on the OI website. 

With deep gratitude and joy in our practice together for collective awakening,

Signed.

John Bell
Richard Brady
Lyn Fine
Jack Lawlor
Kenley Neufeld
Leslie Rawls
Jo-ann Rosen

Conflict Resolution Guide

The Harmony Committee for the North American Dharma Teachers Sangha has created this Conflict Resolution Guide.

This document was prepared by the Harmony Committee of the Plum Village North American Dharma Teachers Sangha over three years beginning in 2010. The committee included both lay and monastic Dharma Teachers. The document provides resources for using conflicts for learning and practice opportunities in processes of conflict resolution.

Everything is seen as an opportunity for practice. This includes conflict.

The Dharma Teachers Sangha (DTS) views conflict as a disturbance in the balance and harmony of the Sangha and the goal always is to restore the harmony and balance while applying our insight and compassion. The goal is NOT to establish “guilt and innocence,” or in any other way get caught in the adversarial punitive approaches to conflict that prevail in our greater society. One reason we have entered into this practice is to “go beyond” such views and behavior.

Where persons are unable to meet and resolve a conflict themselves, for whatever reason, there is often a feeling of helplessness, of “what else can I do?” or “what can I do differently?” There are many answers to such questions. What is offered here is one process for moving ahead from the stuck place.

breath-alive

Still Ripening Sangha

Practicing still ripening…in the Circle Garden; in the small meditation hall of Solidity Hamlet; outside the Solidity dining hall, under the Pepper tree; outside the Clarity dining hall.

In July 2010, when I formally declared my aspirancy, one of the intentions that I set was to practice regularly with the Still Ripening Sangha at Deer Park Monastery. Making this commitment to myself, the path, and the SRS community was to be an immensely important part of my preparation for ordination.

Each third Sunday of the month, I would make the early morning, two hour drive from my home in Northeastern Los Angeles. What at first I perceived to be a necessary sacrifice in order to spend the day at Deer Park soon became just another wonderful part of my day. Driving in the early morning darkness, watching the sunrise while heading east, spending the time with my breathing and the few other souls on the highway, I was able to ease myself into the day. Continue reading