Sunday, March 11, 2018

Blooming Lilac Sangha Newsletter - March 2018

March "Spa" Day of Mindfulness (DOM)

We are all caregivers and we are all cared for at some time in our lives. That is why we are holding the next Day of Mindfulness (DOM) on Saturday, March 24th, 10:30 am to 4:00 pm. as a day to care for and be cared for. We will be offering our usual silent sitting meditation for all attendees at the start and then you can sign up for foot soaks; tapping or EFT meditation; small group dharma sharing; and massage. The entire day will be in silence until dharma sharing. There will also be an area for artistic expression with pages from a coloring book from Plum Village. Show up at 10:30 am to sign up for what you want to experience. Contact Annie at, for any questions and to RSVP. RSVP by March 22nd which also happens to be the day that Annie will email the address of the home in Scottsville, NY, where we will be holding this special day. Bring a brown bag lunch, but there will also be plenty of nutritious snacks.

Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment Workshop

Chris Phillips is offering a workshop March 31st from 9:30 am - 1 pm.

View flyer on OneDrive for more info. Feel free to share the link for the flyer with friends and family. It can be downloaded as a PDF, MS Word document or Printed from OneDrive. Thanks.

Mindfulness and Music

Plum Village Records is here! Whether it's to strengthen singing at weekly sangha gatherings, to share the practice with new people, or to warm the heart, music is at the heart of the Plum Village tradition. Up until now, recordings of music created by the community have mainly been available only as CDs sold at the monastery bookstores. But times are changing and so are we.

Your donations to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation's Dharma Sharing Program enabled us to give a grant to support the practice of singing meditation and chanting. To nourish our collective joy, we offer music from the Plum Village community in a new format - online.

Visit for these remarkable gifts.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Blooming Lilac Sangha Newsletter - Feb. '18

February Day of Mindfulness (DOM)

Coming on Sunday, February 25, we will celebrate a Day of Mindfulness from 12:30 pm to 6 pm. Please bring a dish to share. RSVP to Annie at
Mantras on Love
and Winter
Sunday, February 25, 2018, 12:30 to 6:00 PM
12:30 – 12:50  
Arrival/settle in
12:50– 1:20
1:20 – 1:30
Silent sitting
Walking meditation
1:30 – 2:00
Mantras on Love- Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh
2:00 – 2:30
Writing Gathas or Mantras
2:30 – 2:45
Break/Walking Meditation
2:45 – 3:10 
3:10 – 3:30                 
Sharing of Gathas and Mantras
Silent sitting
3:30 – 4:00
Yoga postures to get you through winter happily and mindfully
4:00 – 4:30
Chanting and singing
4:30 – 5:00
Dharma sharing
5:00 – 6:00
Potluck Preparation and first 15 minutes of mindful eating in silence
Coming in March, we will host a day of Mindfulness focusing on caring for the Caregiver. Stay tuned.

Upcoming Retreat w/ Joanne Friday

Keep an eye out for registration materials coming out soon for the April 12th- 16th retreat at Springwater with Joanne Friday. This retreat usually fills up quickly!
Engaged Buddhism in Seneca Falls this past month at the Women's March. Blooming Lilac and Cedar Cabin Sangha sending messages of confidence, hope and joy out into the world and supporting justice for all!

Announcing the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism, Inc.

The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation has the happy responsibility to announce the new legal name for Thay Thich Nhat Hanh's community  -  the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism, Inc. ("PVCEB").

Since incorporating in the United States in 1998, all of Thay's monasteries and initiatives (e.g. Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation, Parallax Press, the Mindfulness Bell, Wake Up, Wake Up Schools) have operated under the legal name of Unified Buddhist Church, Inc., ("UBC"). This name, which originated in Vietnam, means that our tradition practices to embrace all the teachings of the Buddha, whether they belong to the Mahāyāna or Theravāda stream. On December 31st, 1963, the desire to unify Buddhism  -  which had been embraced by Buddhist believers for nearly fifty years  -  was finally realized when the General Assembly of Vietnamese Unified Buddhism came to a resolution to unify all Buddhist congregations as a single congregation called the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam ("UBCVN").

In 1969, Thay was nominated by the UBCVN to be the chair of the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation to the Paris Peace Accords. Thay registered Eglise Bouddhique Unifiee du Vietnam (Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam) as the organization to represent the Buddhist voice in the peace process in France. The Eglise Bouddhique Unifiee du Vietnam continued to serve as the legal entity for Thay's work after the end of the war. As Thay's teachings became more internationally known, especially in the United States, a separate but related organization was established in Vermont as the Unified Buddhist Church, Inc., in 1998. This US organization has represented Thay and his teachings in the United States and throughout the world.

In 2017, our monastic Board of Directors decided to update our name to better reflect and represent our community. Since the founding of Plum Village in France, the Plum Village name has been widely associated with Thay and the Sangha, and Engaged Buddhism has been referred to as the type of Buddhism that the Plum Village community practices. Hence the new name, Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism, Inc. ("PVCEB"), for the US organization.

The new name includes a notable phrase coined by our teacher. "Engaged Buddhism" describes our practice of making the teachings of the Buddha, in particular mindfulness, a part of every moment of our daily lives. Whether we are a politician, police officer, teacher, manual worker, mother, father, etc., we can always apply the Buddhist way of mindfulness to develop understanding, loving kindness, and compassion in our lives. We do not have to be a Buddhist to do this. The community's new name is a reminder that engaging in mindful, compassionate action is a deep calling for each of us. As Thay has taught us, we need to be still in our actions, not reactive in our response, or we are just contributing to the dis-ease. We aspire to be solid in our practice, clear in our intentions, and always compassionate in our approach. The insight of interbeing must be applied if there is to be any real engagement.

Reflections on Our New Name

Please enjoy these teachings from two of our community's Dharma teachers, Jack Lawlor and Kenley Neufeld.

Life, Liberty and the Path of Happiness: Healing Steps on the Appalachian Trail

The aspiration for this hike is to create a mobile monastery and practice center, while connecting deeply to the healing energy of nature through our mindful steps. We will connect with and support local sanghas as we travel through New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia to Washington, D.C. Through days of mindfulness, we will offer our practice, the energy of mindfulness, peace, and well-being, to our nation's capital and to cities and communities along the way.

We will walk mindfully along the Appalachian trail from Blue Cliff Monastery in New York to Washington, D.C. At the start of each weekly segment we will offer a day of mindfulness in order to connect with and support local communities. We will offer our practice, generating the energies of mindfulness, peace, and wellbeing. We will finish with a peace walk at our nation's capital.

Our intention is to enjoy each step with mindfulness and ease, with nowhere to go and nothing to do. We invite you to participate in one of six six-day hiking retreats between April 8th, 2018 and May 25, 2018.
Brother Phap Mann (Brother Fulfillment) from Blue Cliff Monastery, Brother Phap Lu'u (brother Dharma Stream), Brother Phap Ly, and Brother Phap Xa are part of the hiking team. For more information, visit the Website or Facebook Page.

Calendar of events.

Our Google Calendar is where we keep our schedule of events so check there for the latest info. If you use google calendar and want to subscribe to our calendar click the plus sign in the bottom right corner of the calendar.

We post events excluding our regular meditation practice to Facebook as well.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Blooming Lilac Sangha Newsletter - January 2018

Blooming Lilac Sangha Newsletter

 - January 2018

BLS Caretaking Council

Date: Sunday, January 14th, 2:30 - 4 pm
Location: Zen Center, 7 Arnold Park, 14607

In keeping with having a "daylight" time for Caretaking Council we have adjusted the date and time Please send agenda items via email to BLS by January 12th.

Metta Days

3 Saturday mornings savoring Metta Meditation

January 20th, February 3rd,  & February 17th

We will deepen our practice of Lovingkindness with the collective energy of a small group combining our intentions for that one purpose. How does kindness fit into the big picture of the 4 Brahmaviharas (Kindness, Compassion, Joy, & Equanimity)? Why are these mindstates paired from ancient times with mindfulness meditation? How do we decide when to use the receptive mode of mindfulness itself, and when to use the proactive mode of creating positive mindstates? What makes the Brahmaviharas tick? Why are they called the Boundless Minds? The Divine Abodes? The Noble Dwellingplaces? How are they a glimpse into heaven and hell, the Pure Land and the 4 Ennobling Truths? What are the Near and Far Enemies of Metta and ways to work with them? We will enjoy settling into a continuity of kindness and dip into various sutras and traditional chants.

Please pre-register by sending a note to Chris Phillips.

There will be a box for gifts to support this work.

This workshop will be limited to 8 participants.

January Day of Mindfulness & Ceremony for the Deceased

We will hold our annual Ceremony for the Deceased on Saturday, January 27th (notice change of date) as the main event for January's Day of Mindfulness. It will be held at Min and Xiaoping's house, at address: 375 Westminster Rd Rochester, NY 14607

10:30 am to 4 00 pm

In the morning we will be practicing sitting and walking meditation.

Bring a bag lunch for silent eating meditation

In the afternoon we will participate in the ceremony for the deceased.

Bring a story to share about any beloved family member or friend who you wish to commemorate together. With a few local variances, this formal ceremony follows the format as developed by Thay and the monastics at Plum Village. RSVP to Chris Phillips by email: or phone at 585-305-6949

Learning to Truly Rest  by Mitchell Ratner from StillWater Practice Center

In The Miracle of Mindfulness the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh encourages practitioners who are learning meditation to imagine themselves as pebbles which have been thrown into a river:

The pebble sinks through the water effortlessly. Detached from everything, it falls by the shortest distance possible, finally reaching the bottom, the point of perfect rest. You are like a pebble which has let itself fall into the river, letting go of everything. At the center of your being is your breath. You don't need to know the length of time it takes before reaching the point of complete rest on the bed of fine sand beneath the water. When you feel yourself resting like a pebble which has reached the riverbed, that is the point when you begin to find your own rest. You are no longer pushed or pulled by anything. …

This is your own time. This spot where you sit is your own spot. It is on this very spot and in this very moment that you can become enlightened. You don't have to sit beneath a special tree in a distant land. Practice like this for a few months, and you will begin to know a profound and renewing delight.

For me, it is helpful to think about true restfulness as located midway between tenseness (strained, full of anxiety) and limpness (lacking structure, without energy or will). True restfulness is relaxed, aware and alive, able to move and respond as appropriate. In Chinese martial arts this absence of emotional and physical tension is called "song" and is seen as co-arises with clarity of mind and vitality. It is not unlike the tender, loving, holding of an infant or loved one in one's arms.

Thich Nhat Hanh explains in The Miracle of Mindfulness:

In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality. The person who practices mindfulness should be no less awake than the driver of a car; if the practitioner isn't awake he will be possessed by dispersion and forgetfulness, just as the drowsy driver is likely to cause a grave accident. …. Be like a lion, going forward with slow, gentle, and firm steps. Only with this kind of vigilance can you realize total awakening….."

Foundations of Mindfulness Retreat Day Series

Foundations of Mindfulness Retreat Day Series

Part 1 Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment
Saturday January 6th or Saturday June 16th. Also planned for Feb 2019

Part 2 The 4 Foundations Suttra & Emotions
Saturday March 17th with an introductory evening.

Part 3    The 4th Foundation / 7 Factors of Enlightenment
Saturday September 15th

Pre-register now

Consult Chris Phillips' website for details

If you have any questions feel free to call Chris at: 585-305-6949 or 845-264-7000

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Blooming Lilac Sangha December Newsletter 2017

December Day of Mindfulness

Save the Date for the December Day of Mindfulness: Sunday, December 17th, 12:30 - 6 pm. RSVP to Annie with your wishes for theme, practices and/or if you wish to host the Day of Mindfulness.

Alternative New Year's Eve Celebration

Alternative New Year's Eve Celebration on

Date: Sunday, December 31st, 2017, 5 pm - 10 pm

Location: 257 Fishell Rd Rush, NY 14543

Vegetarian Potluck.... plus bring something of yourself to share: a song, a movement or dance, a poem, a piece of art, a tall tale, a joke, a story, a dream, a skit, a spontaneous utterance, something you find inspiring or something you created - let it be something from the heart- that gives you inspiration and intention for 2017. Bring family members or friends!. Dress is casual.The potluck dinner will be from 5:30 - 6:30 pm, so if you wish, please bring food or beverage to share and include what you are bringing in the RSVP. Please RSVP BY December 25th: Contact info: Phone: 585-533-1461 or

"Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment" Workshop with Chris Phillips

Date: Saturday January 6th, 9 am - 4 pm at the

Location: Mennonite Church
111 Hillside Ave, Rochester, NY 14610

Renew Your Mindfulness Toolbox for the New Year Chris Phillips will be offering a daylong retreat

This will be an excellent intro to mindfulness for the beginner as well as an inspiring refresher for the established meditator.

What is mindfulness? How do we work with a Primary Object of the attention, such as breath awareness, body or hearing? How do we aim and sustain the attention? How do we recognize when the mind has wandered and return to our primary object? Why is the mind wandering one of the most wonderful things that can happen during a mindfulness session? How can we work with discomfort and pain? How does mindfulness build our distress tolerance? How does mindfulness cultivate stability, calm, relaxation, peace and joy?

This day is part 1 of a 3 part series on the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness. Parts 2 and 3 will be coming in March and June 2018.

This series builds upon itself, so "Dwelling Happily" is a pre-requisite to attend part 2 on using the first 3 Foundations to work with emotions, and for part 3 on practicing with the 4th Foundation.

Please register before December 30th by sending a written note to Chris with a small gift as your deposit. 364 Merchants Rd Rochester 14609. There is no fee for Chris' daylong retreats on cultivating mindfulness, but there will be a box for giving available at the retreat.

For more information browse Chris's website or call with any questions you might have at 585-305-6949 or 845-264-7000.

Caretaking Council

The next Blooming Lilac Sangha Caretaking Council will be Sunday January 14th, 2018 at 2:30 pm. The location will probably be the Zen Center, will update if that changes.

Like any garden, flower or other living thing a sangha needs to be tended and nourished to stay healthy and thrive. It needs attention, effort and thoughtful reflection to ensure that its roots and practices remain strong, its direction and efforts are chosen with awareness, and that it offers support and guidance mindfully to Sangha brothers and sisters and the world, all with loving-kindness.

The Blooming Lilac Sangha Caretaking Council was convened to help realize this intention. An evolving forum for considering the Sangha's past and future in the present moment, it is open to all members of the Sangha. It is a gathering to review our past practices and choices, our current circumstances, and to make recommendations, choices and decisions for the future on how to best use our time, effort and resources. Like any other practice opportunity, its goal is to address these tasks in mindfulness, to be a place where the concrete and practical are approached with awareness.

Ceremony for the Deceased

We will hold our annual Ceremony for the Deceased on Saturday, January 20thas the main event for January's Day of Mindfulness. It will be held at Min and Xiaoping's house, at address:  375 Westminster Rd Rochester, NY 14607Time to be announced. Stay tuned.

We conduct this formal ceremony as developed by Thay and the monastics at Plum Village. All are asked to bring photos and a story to share about one family member or loved one who has passed away.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Blooming Lilac Sangha Newsletter November 2017

PSA: Schedule Changes

The Tuesday/Thursday Morning (7:15 am to 8:15 am) sitting location will change October 31st and November 2nd. The morning sitting will be held at:  68 Crosman Terrace Rochester, NY 14620

The evening sitting on November 2 is Cancelled.
Our usual location for the Thursday evening, 7 pm - 8 pm meditation and book reading, is not available on Thursday, Nov. 2nd. A possible substitute is to view "Walk With Me" at Eastview Mall on Nov. 2nd.
Although it appears full, Regal Eastview could move it to a larger theater screening of "Walk With Me"
The phone number for the box office at Eastview mall is: (844-462-7342)

No Day of Mindfulness November

There will be no Day of Mindfulness (DOM) in November. We hope to see you at the retreat.

The next DOM  will be on Sunday, December 17.

Meditation Service Nov. 12th

Meditation service will continue Sunday, November 12th from 4 pm to 6 pm as usual at the Rochester Zen Center for those who are not attending retreat.

Chris Phillips One-Day Retreat

Saturday, January 6th Chris Phillips will be offering a one-day retreat day on "Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment" from 9 am to 4 pm at the Rochester Mennonite Church at address:  111 Hillside Ave, Rochester, NY 14610

This is an intro to meditation and a prequel to practicing with the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse of the Buddha. A fine way to start the new year!

Please mail Chris a note with your contact information and a small gift which will be a non-refundable deposit. This needs to arrive at least one week in advance at address: 364 Merchants Rd, Rochester NY 14609

More details at Chris's website.

Call 585-305-6949 or 845-264-7000 if you have any questions.

Ceremony for the Deceased

We will hold our annual Ceremony for the Deceased on Saturday, January 20thas the main event for January's Day of Mindfulness. It will be held at Min and Xiaoping's house, at address:  375 Westminster Rd Rochester, NY 14607Time to be announced. Stay tuned.

We conduct this formal ceremony as developed by Thay and the monastics at Plum Village. All are asked to bring photos and a story to share about one family member or loved one who has passed away.

Spring retreat with Joanne Friday

Save the date for Spring retreat with Joanne Friday: April 12th - 16th, 2018.

Presence on Facebook

Blooming Lilac Sangha now has a Facebook Page!

In order to help our sangha cast a wide net into the community, Blooming Lilac Sangha now has a Facebook page. This is complementary to our Blog which will still have up to date information for events and newsletter items.

The Facebook page provides an easier way to share reminders for upcoming events, poems, news from Plum Village and Blue Cliff Monastery, and pictures from retreats and sangha events.

Please visit and like Hand with blue shirt collar visible in thumbs up position with word like underneath itour page and ask friends to do the same if you think they might benefit. The newsletter, blogspot, and calendar will continue to provide sangha updates and event information.

Update on Walk With Me

Our sangha hosted a sold-out showing of Walk With Me on October 24th. Many people new to the practice were in attendance, in addition to people from our Sangha.

We were fortunate enough to have Venerable Bhikkhu Kaili who, with our Sangha brother, Chris, helped the audience prepare for the viewing by setting a very gentle, calm energy.

Much gratitude for all who helped bring this movie to the Rochester audience. There will be another sold-out showing on November 2nd at Eastview Mall! It is wonderful that there are opportunities for those in our community to see the work of the larger sangha, monks, and nuns, and hear the words of our teacher.

We have an extra ticket for the November 2nd showing - if anyone wants or knows someone wanting a ticket, please email Karen Smith for more info at!


Writing from Thich Nhat Hanh

"Yes, there is tremendous suffering all over the world, but knowing this need not paralyze us. If we practice mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful sitting, and working in mindfulness, we try our best to help and we can have peace in our heart. Worrying does not accomplish anything. Even if you worry twenty times more, it will not change the situation of the world. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse. Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content, knowing we are trying our best and will continue to do so. If we don't know how to breathe, smile, and live every moment of our life deeply, we will never be able to help anyone. I am happy in the present moment. I do not ask for anything else. I do not expect any additional happiness or conditions that will bring about more happiness. The most important practice is aimlessness, not running after things, not grasping.
We who have been fortunate enough to encounter the practice of mindfulness have a responsibility to bring peace and joy into our own lives, even though not everything in our body, mind, or environment is exactly as we would like. Without happiness, we cannot be a refuge for others. Ask yourself, what am I waiting for to make me happy? Why am I not happy right now?" - excerpt from The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching

Sisters Sing For Thay

Enjoy this lovely video of sisters singing for Thay.