Dear Thay Dear Sangha Thay Tinh Man has asked that everyone be notified: for everyone s safety if it does not stop snowing by 4:00pm today ~ Friday ~ we willFeb 3, 2012 1 of 2View SourceDear ThayDear SanghaThay Tinh Man has asked that everyone be notified: "for everyone's safety if it does not stop snowing by 4:00pm today ~ Friday ~ we will cancel our day of mindfulness tomorrow. Please practice at home and be safe."Peace_()_
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On Jan 29, 2012, at 12:55 PM, Elaine Anne wrote:Dear ThayDear SanghaPlease join us for a Day of Mindfulness, in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and our Plum Village Monastic Sangha.We will dedicate the merit of this day of practice to our Dharma Brother Phap Kinh.Thay's letter from Plum Village is printed below.SATURDAY, FEB. 3, 20129:30 - 4:30Please come and share this day with our sangha.With a deep bow of gratitude ~CDC Monastery & Tuesday Nite Sangha
Dear beloved Sangha around the world,
I am sorry to bring sad news upon you during our Lunar New Year celebration. On the morning of January 23rd, 2012, one of our brothers took his own life around 5am in a forest near Upper Hamlet. When Thay heard this news, and after consulting with a number of brothers, Thay called a monastic meeting at 3:30pm that same day which was the 1st day of the Tet lunar new year. We paused the traditional room visiting activities in order for all monastics to attend the meeting with Thay. I have typed out the sharing Thay gave to us. This is what Thay shared:
Dear Sangha, we are all mourning at this moment, because one of our brothers just died this morning: Br. Phap Kinh. Br. Pháp Kinh is a wonderful brother, he very dedicated to monastic life. He has been taking care of the Sangha in the Upper Hamlet in the best way he can, he behaved like an abbot, welcoming guests and taking good care of them. The news this morning was very shocking for Thay and for the Sangha.
At 2:30am this morning he was still in his room. He went to the New Hamlet yesterday afternoon to attend the ceremony with all the brothers, and afterwards he went back home with them and went to sleep. At 2:30, Phap Kinh’s roommate brother Phap Uyen woke up and at that time he saw Phap Kinh still sleeping. But after that, maybe a strong impulse or a strong emotion took over Phap Kinh. While all the brothers were still sleeping, he left the residence and went to the forest, outside the boundaries of Plum Village, and took his own life in a hut used by hunters.
That came as a big surprise to me and to the Sangha, because he was such a dedicated practitioner and devoted himself fully to the practice of a monk. So it is now impossible for me to understand why he did that. Brothers Pháp Liệu and Trời Tự Tại met with the authorities, waiting for a doctor to come and certify the death so they could bring the dead body of Brother Phap Kinh to the morgue.
I had great expectations for Phap Kinh, because I saw Phap Kinh practicing and considering Plum Village as his own home, his own property -- not only the bookshop he ran, but everything. He took care of the guests and everyone who came and practiced, so I had great expectations for him and I have shared that with a number of brothers in the Upper Hamlet when they visited my hut. So it came as a great surprise, and we cannot really understand why. I think the sisters in the Lower Hamlet and New Hamlet have the same feeling.
The only hint that we can help us understand just a little bit, maybe five percent why he acted like that, is that his mother also committed suicide, around the same time of the year. He left behind a bag with his passport in it, and we don’t know if there is a message for the Sangha in there or not, we have to wait until the police have made their inventory of all these things and they will give them back to us. The brothers and sisters and I are still in shock. We don’t understand why, because there are many people less solid than him, he seems to be more solid than many of us, but he did that to himself. I have offered incense and touched the earth. I have asked Mother Earth to receive, care for, and embrace Brother Phap Kinh.
In the beginning I thought of waiting to announce to the Sangha this sad news later on. But I saw that I did not have the right to delay, so I asked for this meeting in order to tell all of you what has happened. All of us are in a big shock, so we need to practice breathing and walking to calm down. Breathing in, we have to be aware of our own body and the body of the Sangha. Breathing out, we have to calm our own body and help calm the body of the Sangha. Because when Phap Kinh dies, we all die with him somehow.
We only know two little things. The first thing is, Phap Kinh is a very dedicated monk and devoted himself to the monastic life. He showed his dedication, his determination to be a monk and he took care of the Sangha and the temple as an abbot would, and we are very surprised, very shocked. The second thing is that he has a past, with his mother taking her own life in the Winter. But he has achieved a very important thing. He and the Sangha invited his sister to a retreat in Canada last fall, and with much effort were able to convince her and her young adult son to come, and she practiced and transformed a lot. She promised to come to Plum Village this coming April-May in order to further her transformation; but instead of waiting for her to come and continue this fruitful effort, Phap Kinh was overwhelmed by a sudden emotion and took his own life.
Beside these two things we do not have any more. If I or the Sangha has more, then we will share to the Sangha right away. So in these days we have to practice more than usual.
The next morning in the Upper Hamlet, Thay and the brothers of Dharma Cloud Temple came together at 8am to have a ceremony for Br. Phap Kinh. After the ceremony Thay encouraged us to continue our normal practices, schedule, oracle reading, and room visiting. But Thay asked us to celebrate in a new way. At each room we visit, we will enjoy our togetherness by having tea, sharing about our practices, oracle reading, and chanting to offer our energy to support our brother’s transformation. Thay asked us not to produce the excited energy of “merry making” that sometimes arises during lunar new year, but rather to keep the peace and harmony to support the Sangha through this hard time. On Tuesday morning before starting the oracle readings, Thay shared this with the whole community of monastic and lay members present:
This morning we had a session of meditation, a ceremony in the Upper Hamlet. I reminded the brothers that something like this also happened during the time of the Buddha. There were bhikshus who had passed away in the same way. That morning the Buddha called the monks and gave them a teachin because these monks did not understand truly the teaching of impermanence, no self and suffering.
Sitting with the monks for a long time, to allow the energy of mindfulness and compassion embrace the pain and the sorrows then the Buddha said: “Dear friends, in the summertime it’s sometimes very hot. The wind is also very hot, everything is dry, and the wind blows the dust up high and makes it really difficult to breathe. Everyone is thirsty and suffering because of the heat. The sky is filled with dust and we don’t see the blue sky, the suffering is great. Suddenly rain comes, the rain pours down and suddenly everything changes. The rain helps the dust to settle, the sky reappears, the air becomes fresh again, everyone can breathe and feels peaceful and refreshed.”
When we practice mindful breathing, we can perform a miracle like that. With the practice of mindful breathing we can stop the heat. We can stop the dust. We help the blue sky to reappear, in us and around us. We feel refreshed by the practice of mindful breathing. The Buddha continued to teach the monks about the practice of mindful breathing to help them calm down, help them to be embraced by nature, by the sky, by the earth. This is one of the sutras the Buddha gave on the practice of mindful breathing when some accident, some suffering, came to the Sangha.
This morning I also shared with the brothers that Mother Nature can help us heal, can help refresh us, because she is the Bodhisattva of Refreshing Earth. If we allow nature to embrace us we will get the healing and transformation, and we will stop suffering. Not only Buddhists but also those who are non Buddhist have the same experience -- like the poet Victor Hugo. When his young daughter passed away he suffered so much, his heart was broken. He decided to leave the city of Paris and go back to his village. In one of his poems he told of his experience; how, far from Paris, sitting under the beautiful refreshing trees, he was able to get in touch with the beauty of refreshing Nature and allow the peace of Nature to enter his heart, and he suffered less. He began to heal and get out of the suffering. Maybe he was a little pale and weak, but he survived. The poet suffered very much because he lost his beloved daughter; but he went back and took refuge in nature. He was able to heal and he said that in a poem. When suffering overwhelms us, Mother Nature is always there, ready to embrace us and heal us.
In the practice of meditation, from time to time we pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to embrace us, saying: “Kính xin đức từ bi nhiếp thọ.” Nhiếp thọ means “receive and embrace us.” Maybe our practice of mindfulness and concentration is not strong enough, and we are not capable to embrace our pain and sorrows. But with the energy of the Sangha, the energy of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, we will be able to embrace our pain and allow it to transform. We don’t have to ask Mother Earth to embrace us, because she is embracing us; she is in us and we are in her. The only thing is that we don’t know that we are the Earth, and inside of the Earth, and Mother Earth is embracing us.
If we know how to walk and breathe mindfully and become aware that Mother Earth is always embracing us with her wonderful and powerful energy, we will get the healing, we will transform our suffering. That is why, when we express homage to the Bodhisattva Mother Earth, we allow the Earth our mother to embrace us and calm and transform the suffering in us. Buddhists and non-Buddhists can practice the same. So let us now join our palms and invite the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to embrace us and help us heal and transform.
This is what we are going through in Plum Village right now. It is our duty to share the grief with our brothers and sisters in our other centers.