Excerpts from Cheri’s Lamp Transmission Dharma Talk
by Cheri Maples
January 9, 2008. Dear Thay, Dear Venerables, Dear Sangha: Finding Thay’s teachings and being instructed and supported in developing a mindfulness practice have been the greatest gifts in my life. My sincere aspiration is to try to inspire others to find the path you led me to.
Since I was very young, I have had a passion for justice, which led to my work as a police officer and my work in other parts of the criminal justice system. I began working for social justice, however, not from a peaceful place, but from the place of an angry rebel. Looking back, I realize that fighting for social justice in various forms was one of the fuels I used to keep the unconscious habit seeds of anger burning strongly. As a result, the unskillful behaviors I engaged in certainly created some harm in my personal and work relationships.
I attended my first retreat with Thay in 1991. That retreat started the beginning of the mindfulness journey I have been on ever since. I have lots of habit energy and karma to transform so this life-long journey, while not a speedy one, has been and will continue to be a journey characterized by constancy and right aspiration.
For me, the path of mindfulness continues to be about waking up to the mystery that is right here in the present moment. Although there continue to be painful experiences and cycles in my life, I get increasingly frequent and reassuring glimpses of my vastness and interconnection with everybody and everything in the universe.
As my practice has progressed, I have begun to understand that working for peace and justice is a journey of gentle honesty and a process of learning how to be present so that every interaction with another person is an opportunity for authenticity and understanding. Today I would like to share with you five of the most important things I have internalized about Thay’s teachings that I hope to pass on to others in a form and language that they can relate to.
First, I have learned that our personal suffering is the richest compost of our practice.
Second, I have learned that the truth is many-sided and can be approached from multiple perspectives and that it is important to develop a deep sense of openness.
Third, I have deeply internalized Thay’s teaching that it is impossible to end violence with violence.
Fourth, I have learned the importance of ethical courage and the willingness to be a voice for the disenfranchised, even when there is a personal cost for doing so.
Lastly, Thay has taught me that compassion can be fierce as well as gentle.
May all beings be safe and protected.
May all beings be mindful and peaceful.
May all beings be filled with great ease, love and compassion.
(If you’re interested, here’s the Full Dharma Talk)
SnowFlower Autumn Regional Retreat: Nourishing a Loving, Joyful, Engaged and Genuine Contemplative Practice: Exploring Insight Meditation in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh
October 18-20 at Bethel Horizons. Led by Dharma Teacher Jack Lawlor.
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Children’s Program – Friday October 18 and Friday November 22 from 6:30-7:25 at Friends Meetinghouse (basement)
For children ages 6-12.
Communi(tea) Time – Tuesdays from 6:15-6:50 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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