Know Your Sangha Member

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Get to know your Sangha members by reading about them below.

Finn Enke

How did you learn about TNH?Finn-Cascade
I was intensively studying Buddhism in college in the early 1980s, One of my professors worked on Buddhist-Christian dialogue and had spent some time with Thich Nhat Hanh. My parents had something by Thich Nhat Hanh. We had a lot of good books lying around, and I started reading those things when I was 10 or 11, Thomas Merton, D.T. Suzuki, Basho.

I was drawn to Buddhism that young partly because I deeply loved the earth and all the creatures of earth and sky, and was already grieving environmental carelessness and destruction. I felt like the world was going so fast, and I always wanted to slow down and pay attention.

Growing up as a transgender kid in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I was also desperate for teachings that could help me exist at all. In those years, there was little understanding about transgender people—people refused to believe that I was who I knew myself to be. By the time I was 10 years old, I was questioning whether it would be possible for me to live with humans, and I was preparing myself for a future in which I lived in the wilderness with animals. At the same time, I was starting to read mystics and monastics of all traditions, trying to find ways to stay connected to human life despite the ways we misunderstand each other. Buddhism then affirmed my sense of interbeing, and it taught me enough about compassion and non-judgment that I could keep a toe-hold on human community and nurture whatever connections were possible.

I often think about how Thich Nhat Hanh developed his practice while experiencing the violence and devastation of war in his own country. How can we help but acknowledge all of this within us and around us? We are not separate.

What is your favorite TNH book?
These days I’m reading the mindfulness trainings a lot. I don’t actually read much; one poem, or a single paragraph or even a sentence is enough to live with for a while. Some years ago, I spent an entire year reading Buddha Mind, Buddha Body!

What is your favorite TNH quote or teaching?
Teachings on interbeing, deep listening, and engaged practice.

Thich Nhat Hanh isn’t the only one to teach these things, but I appreciate the ways he makes his teachings accessible, and this makes the practice accessible. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

How did you hear about SnowFlower?
My partner, Nan, started going to SnowFlower in 2008. We had talked about finding some kind of practicing community, but she is the one who took the initiative. It had been decades since I had practiced Buddhism in any real way, much less with a community. Nan went to SnowFlower for nearly a year before I finally went as well. I’m grateful to her; SnowFlower has changed my life and ours.

Remembering your first time at SnowFlower, what did you like best?  Put another way, why did you decide to come back?
When I arrived the first time, I felt that the space held room for all the ways we are, for the ways that we all might be experiencing joy or sorrow, crisis, transformation, whatever it might be. That felt incredibly supportive to me in a time of struggle and also a gentle way of learning to engage the world without judgment.

It’s really special that everyone who wants to lead can do so; I feel lucky to get to hear so many people’s teachings and insights. SnowFlower feels like a democratic and generous space; we don’t all have to think or believe or experience the same things, and there is room to respect all of it.

If you could change one thing about SnowFlower, what would it be?
I always feel happy when new people come and we grow in diversity and experience. I appreciate every effort to keep the doors open and reach out in new directions.

If you are working, what do you do?  If you are retired, what did you do in your last job?
I teach history and gender studies at UW, and I love it.

Favorite hobbies or pastimes?
Most of all, being outside and touching into what is refreshing and wondrous right where I am. I love exploring with Nan, because together we find the most surprising things in the most ordinary places. I spend hours marveling at the ways our cats continue to develop new grammars for getting us to play with them, constantly. I draw and paint. I play kora, a West-African bridge-harp with 21 strings. I love trying new things. Recently I’ve been singing in choirs for the first time in my life.

Favorite guilty pleasure?
No guilt.

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Gloria Green

How did you learn about TNH and SnowFlower?
My husband, Walt, joined SnowFlower Sangha and shared Peace is Every Step with me.

What is your favorite TNH book?
Peace is Every Step – so much wisdom written in an easy to understand manner.

Remembering your first time at SnowFlower, what did you like best?  Put another way, why did you decide to come back?
The first time I attended SnowFlower, 8 years ago, I was just going to see what it was like.  I was not planning to join as I was a Catholic.  However when I attended, I felt like I was at home.  The room was filled with warm, welcoming people who were on the path I was looking for.

What other Buddhist teachers do you like?
Tara Brach, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein

What is your a favorite Buddhist website?
Dharmaseed.org

How does Buddhism as taught by TNH fit into your daily life?  Why is it important to you?
The five precepts are my North Star, helping me to become a more compassionate, loving and caring person who lives in the present moment.

If you are working, what do you do?  If you are retired, what jobs or career did you hold in your working life?
My career has ranged from all different aspects of marketing to project and program management.  In retirement I will be taking a program led by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield to become a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher.

Do you do any volunteer work?
For the past four or so years, I have been a Scheduler for SnowFlower as well as the Secretary of the Steering Committee.  This year I will be coordinating the website as well as being Treasurer.

While it does not feel like volunteering, I have been a “Big” to Rakayah through Big Brothers Big Sisters for the last 11 years.

Currently I am investigating other volunteer opportunities as I move into retirement.

Family?
I come from a family with eight sisters and one brother.

Walt and I are blessed with four children: Derek who is married to Char with two daughters Winnie (4) and Evie (2); Ryan who is married to Beth with one daughter, Evie (2), and a son on the way; Paul living with Kanan; and Callie married to Anay.

Favorite hobbies or pastimes?
I love hiking, biking, canoeing, and being outdoors in nature.  When I am inside I devour books, sew and quilt.

Favorite guilty pleasure?
My favorite guilty pleasure is dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.

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Amy Krohn

How did you learn about Thich Nhat Hanh (“TNH”)?
From poems and brief readings shared at the first introduction to mindfulness class I took.

What is your favorite TNH book?
The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings

How did you hear about SnowFlower and how long have you been coming to sangha?
I found it listed on-line and have been attending Sangha for 4 years.

Remembering your first time at SnowFlower, what did you like best?  Put another way, why did you decide to come back?
I liked the sense of a community of practitioners that support each others’ meditation practice.

If you could change one thing about SnowFlower, what would it be?
More potlucks- people bring amazing vegetarian food!

What other Buddhist teachers do you like?
Pema Chodron, Tara Brach, Kaz Tanahashi and Dogen

What is your a favorite Buddhist website?
Plumvillage.org

How does Buddhism as taught by TNH fit into your daily life?  Why is it important to you?
Bringing mindfulness to daily life can transform the very moments in which we live our lives, for ourselves and others.

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Karuna Namenwirth

How did you learn about Thich Nhat Hanh (“TNH”)?
My daughter received a copy of The Miracle of Mindfulness when she finished 8th grade. She didn’t care for it, but I did.

What is your favorite TNH book?
Cultivating the Heart of Love

How did you hear about SnowFlower and how long have you been coming to sangha?
Along with a few other people, my partner and I were founding SnowFlowers.

Remembering your first time at SnowFlower, what did you like best?  Put another way, why did you decide to come back?
It was clear after meeting Thay, that he was a living master and it would have been foolish not to take such an opportunity when it presented itself. The community offered by sangha added the joy of contact with like-minded people that I had been missing for a long while.

If you could wish one thing for SnowFlower, what would it be?
That we strive to keep beginners-mind and not get into gloss of any sort, what Trungpa Rinpoche called spiritual materialism.

How does Buddhism as taught by TNH fit into your daily life?  Why is it important to you?
The practices of Present Moment and Metta (including mouth yoga) form the backbone of my daily life.

If you are working, what do you do?
Take care of the land we are privileged to steward, while enjoying each day as if it were my last.

Family?
3-5 feral cats and a husband (human)

Favorite hobbies or pastimes?
Being outside and doing what presents itself.

Favorite pleasure?
Not indulging in extraneous thinking.

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Rosebud (David) Sparer

How did you learn about Thich Nhat Hanh?
My wife learned about Thay’s Green Lake Retreat in 2003, and told me about the retreat and Thich Nhat Hanh.  She went to the retreat with my daughter, who was then 15, and a friend of hers.  She came back very excited about him, and his practice, and told me all about it.

What was the first TNH book you read?
The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, I think.  This book, as suggested by the title, addresses the key points of the Buddha’s teaching, the central essence of Buddhism. 

What is your favorite TNH quote or teaching?
I appreciate Thay’s approach to Buddhist practice by which he makes it very clear that everyone can begin and benefit by studying and following simple practices.  It is not only for esoteric monks and people living in monasteries.  This is sort of unique.  Now that I know so much more about Buddhism, I also see that even in his common person / easy to understand approaches, his message is very true to the teachings introduced 2500 years ago.  That is what I like so much about Thay’s teachings.

I also very much appreciate how he stands up to oppression and injustice, but does so with a calm and beautiful demeanor. That is such an inspiration to me.

How did you hear about SnowFlower?
My wife was at the Green Lake Retreat and learned about it there.  She then wanted to check it out, and I was equally interested.  We both began attending regularly at that time.

Remembering your first time at SnowFlower, what did you like best? Put another way, why did you decide to come back?|
I had been deeply involved in Taoist practices, specifically T’ai Chi and Chi Gong, starting in 1975.  I had studied and practiced with several teachers for nearly 15 or so years, and had become a teacher myself for many years too.  However, when my children were born and were young, it became hard to devote this much time to non-kid activities.

By the time the Green Lake Retreat happened my kids were getting older and I was very ready to again become part of a practice community.  I had developed greatly in Taoist practices, but felt the desire for a greater focus upon a spiritual side to practice than I was finding with T’ai Chi and Chi Gong teaching in Madison.  I found SnowFlower to be clearly focused upon a spiritual practice, yet not so rigid that I felt unable to combine my new Buddhist practice with my previous Taoist approaches.  People were friendly and inviting.  I liked being with them and practicing together.

If you could change one thing about SnowFlower, what would it be?
I like sitting on a cushion, and wish we had a greater invitation to practitioners to try to do their mediation in this way, instead of usually sitting on a chair.  Also, I like chanting, and would enjoy doing that more often.  Otherwise I am very happy with how things are done.

What other Buddhist teachers do you like?
I have studied under Roshi Joan Halifax at numerous retreats, and have a wonderful practice relationship with her co-abbot Joshin Brian Byrnes.

Dogen and Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind) have been wonderful to read, and Stephen Batchelor (Confession of a Buddhist Atheist) have been very enlightening lately.  I have really enjoyed many of the writings and lectures by the wonderful Pema Chodron.  Finally, one of my other very favorite teachers lately is Norman Fisher.

How does Buddhism as taught by TNH fit into your daily life? Why is it important to you?
TNH emphasizes making your practice part of your daily life.  Most Zen teachers do the same, but he puts a very strong focus upon that point.  I have now for several years really emphasized integrating my practice into my work, my family, and how I interact with all the people I meet each day.  Bit by bit, this has had a noticeable effect upon how I feel about my life and how people interact with me.  This has brought deep and profound joy to me, day after day, more and more all the time.   It has allowed me to work with difficult situations with much more calmness and compassion.  If that is not important I don’t know what would be.  I look forward to all the interactions I will have the rest of my years.  How wonderful.

If you are working, what do you do?
I am an attorney.  I focus my work into two areas.  One area is tenants’ rights litigation.  The other is working for coops.  I handle lots of cases for tenants in courts in Dane County, and negotiating with local landlords and their attorneys.  This litigation work is very challenging in general, and I find it especially challenging in terms of applying my Buddhist approach to life and work.  That is for sure.  I work for many of the cooperatives in town, all around the state, and even around the country.  This is continuously very satisfying work – creating an economic culture based upon working together and valuing everyone involved.  It is the economic system we all wish could be the dominant one, instead of capitalism, and here it is right here in Madison.  I am very proud to be able to assist the many cooperators in being more and more successful, and spreading the reach of cooperation.

Do you do any volunteer work?
I serve on several boards of non-profits and on some City Committees.  I do presentations at conferences, and volunteer time at local legal clinics.  And of course, SnowFlower’s Steering Council and Scheduler’s Committee.

Family?
I am married and have two children.  My wife Doreen is a regular at SnowFlower, and we get to practice together ever day and talk about the Dharma together, and listen to teachings when we go on trips.  That is wonderful.  My daughter is 30 and my son 27.  My son Willie is about to move back to Madison, with his wife and baby, and serve as a Chaplain at Meriter Hospital.  He is one of new breed of Buddhist Chaplains graduating from the University of Chicago Master of Divinity Program.  He and his wife are both very serious practitioners.  My daughter Iris also is involved in Buddhism, she  lived at Thay’s Deer Park center in California for a few months.  She has been a first-grade teacher in a French immersion school for several years, but right now is in the middle of spending a year living in Germany.  This coming fall she’s moving back to the US with her husband who will be starting as a professor at Purdue.

Favorite hobbies or pastimes?
I am an avid cyclist and ride weekly with a cycling club during the warm weather, and commute by bicycle to work all year round, even when it is below zero.  I have also been a very serious volleyball player since college, and in the past, have played in state wide and regional tournaments.  As mentioned before, I am a very dedicated Chi Gong and Tai Chi practitioner and still do practice regularly.  I love to cook, and do most of the cooking for my family.  I love coming home after a very stressful overwhelming day and cooking an intricate meal for everyone.  Finally, I love to read – fiction, non-fiction science books, dharma books of all kinds, poetry, etc.  I usually have two or three books going simultaneously

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Susan Pearsall

How did you learn about Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay or TNH)?
Through Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s suggestion that Thay be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

What was the first TNH book you read?
I haven’t a clue. I remember buying and reading the book, and using a snippet from it in a dharma talk.  Many years ago, however, I passed it along to another SnowFlower. So all I can say is that I hope this little book is still enjoying life somewhere out in the community.

What is your favorite TNH book?
Chanting from the Heart.

What is your favorite TNH quote or teaching?
Engaged Buddhism.

How did you hear about SnowFlower?
As a member of Trinity United Methodist Church I was vaguely aware of the Sangha, since at that time SnowFlower met at Trinity for its Tuesday night sit. A bit later, my involvement with Trinity’s various committees and councils made me much more aware of the Sangha among us.

How long have you been coming to SnowFlower?
About 10 years.

Remembering your first time at SnowFlower, what did you like best?  Put another way, why did you decide to come back?
I first came to Sangha to help my friend Heinz, who had just lost Marion, his wife of approximately 65 years. Heinz told me that he wanted to attend the Tuesday meeting, and also that he was too shy to go alone. So I rallied my husband David, and the three of us came together.

By chance that meeting was Mary Gallagher’s night for a tea ceremony, and of course this was just what Heinz needed – a very tranquil and gentle introduction to the ways of the Sangha.

Over time I continued to come, both to help Heinz and also to monitor issues among the various congregations housed at Trinity.  And then when Heinz no longer needed me, and the congregational issues had been resolved, I happily continued coming for my own wellbeing.

If you could change one thing about SnowFlower, what would it be?
I would like to see us try a summer picnic for the whole Sangha.

What other Buddhist teachers do you like?
Too many to count.

Some of the volumes on my bookshelf right now are Sylvia Boorstein, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Pema Chodron, Tara Brach, Robert A. E. Thurman, D. T. Suzuki, Chogyam Trungpa, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche – and, of course, Thich Nhat Hanh.

And for poetry, perhaps especially Maxine Kumin, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Naomi Shihab Nye, W. S. Merwin, and Jane Hirshfield.

Do you have a favorite Buddhist website that you turn to frequently?
My regulars are Daily Zen in the morning and Tricycle [Daily Dharma] in the evening.

How does Buddhism as taught by Thay fit into your daily life?  Why is it important to you?
I have no set schedule for formal practice. I once stocked up on groceries, and sat for seven consecutive days. On busy days I simply snatch a few moments of quiet time as I can. And most days are somewhere in between those extremes.

Whatever is happening (or not happening), watching the breath is always beneficial in so many ways.

As to why I find the practice important, ask me that question at a dozen different times, and I will probably give you at least a dozen different answers. Let’s just say that I continually find a multitude of benefits as I travel my path.

If you are working, what do you do?  If you are retired, what did you do in your last job?
I am a retired lawyer. For approximately two decades I worked in poverty law at Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc., first with migrant farmworkers, and then as a matrimonial lawyer with cases involving severe spousal abuse and sexual abuse of children.

Do you do any volunteer work?
I dabble as possible. Vision and hearing issues, however, severely limit my usefulness.

Family?
I am widowed, with no children. There are many members of David’s and my families that I care about very deeply. Alas, however, they are scattered here and there – and so many of them are far, far away.

Favorite hobbies or pastimes?
Walking, reading, feeding wild turkeys, and herding my three kitties: Aquila, Marcella, and Papaya.

Favorite guilty pleasure?
Folks, I am 73 years old. For me, guilty pleasures are nothing more than fond memories from a distant past.

So what are my frivolous amusements? These days I spend occasional and very happy hours giving my cats seasonal names.

Take Papaya, for example… She is not a fruit! She is a Goddess of Destiny from the Hatti and Hittite cultures of ancient Anatolia. Be careful with this cat: worship of her began approximately 4,000 years ago.

So…for the centennial of the Irish Easter Rising, Papaya was temporarily renamed Gráinne Ní Mháille (modern English calls her Grace O’Malley the Pirate Queen).

And since I worked for many years in family law, here’s my favorite story about Queen Grace O’Malley:

Regarding her 2nd marriage:  According to tradition the couple married under early Irish law ‘for one year certain’, and it is said that when the year was up O’Malley divorced Risdeárd (Richard Burke) and kept the castle. The story goes that O’Malley and her followers locked themselves in Rockfleet Castle, and she called out a window to Burke, “Richard Burke, I dismiss you.” Those words had the effect of ending the marriage – and since she was in possession of the castle, she kept it. No need for matrimonial lawyers under that legal system!

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Jonathon Reed

How did you learn about Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay or TNH)?
I was renovating my kitchen in the summer of 2003 when a Madison police captain by the name of Cheri Maples was interviewed on WORT about a TNH retreat at Green Lake later that summer. I decided to go to the retreat as soon as I heard Cheri’s description of TNH.

What was the first TNH book you read?
The Path of Emancipation, which was the first book I picked up at the book sale at Green Lake. My two favorite books of Thay’s are The Miracle of Mindfulness and Zen Keys.

What is your favorite TNH quote or teaching?
I have two: Paraphrasing one of Thay’s insights about happiness when he asks us, “How many things have to be right in our lives before we’re happy?” It seems that there is always something that’s not quite right or the way we think it should be. And that’s what we choose to focus on, instead of the multitude of things that are right in our privileged Western lives.

The other is Thay’s advice on stopping or shamatha (in Chapter 6 of The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching). It is the first of two aspects of meditation; the second is looking deeply or insight (vipashyana).

Thay describes four functions of stopping: 1) stopping our habit energies, 2) calming our body and mind, 3) resting like a pebble sinking and coming to rest at the bottom of a river, and 4) healing by just resting without a worry in the world or trying to attain anything. I’ve found this practice helps me in many ways and in many situations.

How did you hear about SnowFlower?
My breakout group at the Green Lake retreat was essentially Snowflower Sangha. I couldn’t get away from them! I have been coming to SnowFlower ever since, starting in September 2003.

Remembering your first time at SnowFlower, what did you like best? Put another way, why did you decide to come back?
Being in the midst of a small community of long-term Zen Buddhist practitioners. I could see the benefits of the practice in their smiles and their ways of being in the world.

If you could change one thing about SnowFlower, what would it be?
I wish we still came together as a full Sangha once a week, while still continuing our smaller weekly gatherings.

What other Buddhist teachers do you like?
Krishnamurti (though not Buddhist), Dogen, Shunryu Suzuki (Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind), Philip Kapleau (Three Pillars of Zen), Stephen Batchelor (Buddhism Without Belief), Jack Kornfield, James Baraz, and Pema Chodron.

How does Buddhism as taught by TNH fit into your daily life? Why is it important to you?
“Waking up” is the key teaching and practice to me.

It is the most helpful and important of the Buddha’s and Thay’s teachings—to be fully present to the wonderful world around and within me instead of consumed by thoughts and feelings manufactured by my mind and its conditioning.

To me, the beauty of Zen Buddhism is that there is no belief system or canon. The Dharma is the most accurate description of how the world really works, particularly in seeking to lead a meaningful and joyous life. Zen Buddhism is the best way for me to understand the world as I perceive it.

If you are working, what do you do?
I’m a management consultant who helps organizations that are making their communities and the world better. I founded the Center for World-Changing Organizations to provide them with ideas and tools to make a bigger impact through their work and increase their funding.

I’ve consulted for many types of organizations through the years, including international development projects in Afghanistan, the former Soviet Union Republic of Georgia, and Trinidad. It’s questionable whether my graduate research on cranes nesting inside the Arctic Circle and seabirds attracted to man-made lights in Hawaii and Panama adequately prepared me for this work.

Do you do any volunteer work?
I have served on two boards: Wisconsin Wetlands Association and World SHARE. I do pro bono work for various organizations. Given my background, I’ve found it challenging to serve on boards; I prefer advising them as an outside consultant.

Family?
I have a few cousins who I’m close to, but mostly my friends and my sangha are my family.

Favorite hobbies or pastimes?
Practicing mindfulness every day, getting together with friends, being out in nature at all times of the year, biking, bird watching, going to sangha and retreats, good dharma talks, helping organizations that are making a difference, traveling, XC skiing, running, watching good films, and reading fiction and nonfiction.

Favorite guilty pleasure?
Home brewed lattes made from Lavazza Super Crema Espresso beans.

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Steven Spiro

How did you learn about Thich Nhat Hanh (“TNH”)?
My dear wife Susan turned me on to him in the early 1990’s.

What is your favorite TNH book?
The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings

How did you hear about SnowFlower and how long have you been coming to sangha?
We heard from Karuna and David Lawrence in the early nineties, and joined in 2000 when Ed and Mary Celnicker were going.

Remembering your first time at SnowFlower, what did you like best?  Put another way, why did you decide to come back?
We were energized by the Vermont TNH retreat we attended in 2000.  Karuna and Cheri were there.  Our first visit to SF was with about 8 other people in the Friends’ library.

What other Buddhist teachers do you like?
Many….Joan Halifax and Bernie Glassman are my Soto teachers, along with others at Upaya; the Ven. Geshe Sopa had a profound influence on me, as did John Travis and others in the Vipassana tradition.  My wife has been a powerful teacher.  So have my children and grandchildren.  Dave Haskin has provided great encouragement to me.  And my dog loves me forever, although he currently doesn’t teach.

What is your favorite Buddhist website?
Dharmaseed

How does Buddhism as taught by TNH fit into your daily life?  Why is it important to you?
Thay has provided such clear and simple teachings.  He lives in the marrow of my bones—always.  He forever changed my life, for which I am over a million times grateful.

If you are working, what do you do?  If you are retired, what jobs or career did you hold in your working life?
I made a living as an artist in wood for forty years, creating sculptural furniture.  I built a house, lived in the country, served as a volunteer EMT, and still teach Tai Chi and Qigong (since 1995.)

Do you do any volunteer work?
I enjoy teaching meditation in three prisons, occasionally lead retreats in the Buddhist tradition, sit with those who are dying, teach Qigong, draw cartoons, garden organically, and try to keep up with my grandkids.  In SnowFlower I have various roles, including serving as a scheduler and on the Steering Council.

Family?
Oh, yes.  Eleven in the immediate family, ranging in age from seven to ninety-five—all close by in Madison.

Favorite hobbies or pastimes?
Meditation…..reading…..biking…..travel….cc skiing

Favorite guilty pleasure?
All chocolate…..no guilt.

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Geri Weinstein-Breunig

How did you learn about Thich Nhat Hanh (TNH)?
I was sharing with my close friend and Snowflower member Heather Mann the discomfort I experience when I think about dying. She talked about another way of understanding death, and gave me No Death, No Fear to read. The book led me to think differently about death because it helped me to think differently about life. I became aware that assuring desired outcomes, planning for contingencies, and thinking about what to do next no longer mattered, or at least mattered less. And death no longer seemed like an end, but as Heather explained, it was instead another manifestation still out there in the world.

What was the first TNH book you read?
My favorite book is Silence: The Power of Silence in a World Full of Noise. The idea really excited me that instead of noise—thinking, fearing, wanting, planning–there might be silence. I was also afraid. Who was I if I wasn’t thinking? This book made me understand that I could finally find not only myself, but at the same time, freedom.

What is your favorite TNH quote or teaching?
I have two both from Silence:
“We are continued by our views and by our thinking. These are the children we give birth to in every moment.”
“To fully experience this life as a human being, we need to connect with our desire to realize something larger than our individual selves. This can be motivation enough to change our ways so we can find relief from the noise that fills our heads.”

How did you hear about SnowFlower?
Heather talked about it often, encouraging me to attend the Tuesday night sangha with her and her husband, Dave.

How long have you been coming to Snowflower?
It’s been almost a year.

Remembering your first time at SnowFlower, what did you like best?
What impressed me most was the warmth of the people, how welcoming they were. That’s probably the most important reason that sangha is so important – the people, their strength and their sharing.

What other Buddhist teachers do you like?
I often listen to Sharon Salzberg.

Do you have a favorite Buddhist website?
Buddhist Peace Fellowship at http://www.buddhistpeacefellowship.org.

How does Buddhism as taught by TNH fit into your daily life? Why is it important to you?
Thay’s teaching is the lens I use to feel alive, feel compassion, be happy, understand impermanence, feel connected to others, cherish equanimity, and live with uncertainty.

If you are retired, what jobs or career did you hold in your working life?
In my former working life, I took many different turns.  Once I was a French/Spanish teacher, then a horticulturalist, and lastly, a cultural geographer.

Do you do any volunteer work?
All my volunteer work centers on being in prison and working for prison reform. Each year for the past four years, I have participated in Restorative Justice and Interfaith programs in four different prisons. Recently, with other volunteers, we developed a program linking nature to humanity and the humanities. I’m also in a grief group in Fox Lake prison, which meets twice monthly and in another program that applies a methodology developed by Jean Feraca, the Wisconsin Public Radio host, to use the humanities as a tool for transformation.

Family?
My husband and I have been married for 22 years. He is one of thirteen. I have over fifty nieces and nephews.

Favorite hobbies or pastimes?
Reading, gardening, cooking for and connecting with friends

Favorite guilty pleasure?
Eating anything that’s on my “Don’t Eat List.”

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