The type of practice in which I am engaged is letting go by giving everything (bestowing in imagination) to the sources of wisdom, which I call “the Buddhas”. It involves imagining giving everything away as an offering.
A word about imagination. That the offerings are imagined allows a deeper letting go than can yet be actualized in real life. This is important. As our minds are the source of our happiness and suffering, training our minds by using our imagination — similar to athletes imagining themselves shooting threepoint shots or kicking field goals — is very powerful.
One aspect of the practice is to let go, either in direct experience, in memory, or by imagining, what is wonderful and beautiful. We bring each thing to mind — from poetry to the way swallows fly to the face of a loved one — appreciate it, and then let it go by offering it to the Buddhas.
Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that the present moment is all there is, the only moment. To be present with what is happening here and now requires letting go of what happened in the past. The most delicious moments of our lives are all only fleeting moments; when they are gone, they are gone.
Another, more difficult, aspect of this practice is to let go of everything to which we are attached, everything to which we apply the words ‘my’ or ‘mine’: my body, my thoughts, wife, children, house, money, everything! Since, in truth, we will have to let go of all these one day – either when something changes in ‘my life’ or when we die – the practice is to let go of these things, in imagination, now. By letting go now, aware of their transience, we appreciate them more fully. In addition, offering them is a reminder that we are the temporary caretakers of whatever it is that we call ‘mine’. Like everything, they really belong to the flow of life, the ultimate dimension. Giving them to the Buddhas only increases their value, as we take care of what is “mine” for them!
In Thay’s book on the Lotus Sutra, Peaceful Action, Open Heart, he writes about the Vietnamese monks and nuns who immolated themselves in the ‘60s. When you realize that your present physical form is not a permanent and fixed entity, but that you can and will take many forms, then you have the courage to relinquish your body without suffering.
There is faith that what remains after letting go of everything is the essential absence that is who I truly am: “intrinsically empty, naturally radiant, ceaselessly responsive”. I keep practicing letting go over and over to perfect this act of complete generosity.
– Excerpts from a talk by Don Katz
SnowFlower is hosting Br. Phap Man for it’s weekly Sangha gathering on Friday March 6th from 7-9pm at the Friends Meetinghouse. Additionally, Br. Man will offer a community discussion on Saturday March 7th from 9-11am at Warner Park Community Center. All are welcome. Please RSVP here for Saturday morning.
The SnowFlower group on Engaged Practice will take place on March 28, 2020 from 2-4pm. Location TBD.
Communi(tea) Time – Tuesdays from 6:00-6:50 at Friends Meetinghouse: Enjoy a delicious and informal cup of tea and conversation before the weekly Tuesday gathering
Tea with Susan Pearsall: Quiet Conversation and Turkish Tea in Susan’s home. Contact Susan at email@example.com
Tuesday and Friday Sangha Gatherings: The Friends Meetinghouse, 1704 Roberts Court, Madison, WI. 7:00 – 8:30pm.
Wednesday Daytime Sangha Gatherings: Locations Rotate, 1:30-3:00 pm – Refer to Wednesday listserv emails for location information and updates. For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday Morning Sangha Gatherings: Locations Rotate, 10:00 – 11:30 am. Refer to Sunday listserv emails for location and topic. For more info, e-mail email@example.com