Sunday, September 6, 2020

BLS Newsletter - September 2020

Invitation to a Zoom Gathering for Practitioners in Blooming Lilac, Cedar Cabin and Apple Blossom Sanghas:

Listening Circles for Healing White Racism
(Based on the recent sessions moderated by Dharma
Teacher and OI member, John Bell)

What: One 90-minute interactive Zoom session
When: Final Date pending participant responses, but will be
on TUES SEPT 15 or WED SEPT 16, 2020

Why is this needed?

Following the death of George Floyd (and many others), many of us who have identified as white have found a need to work through the complex feelings arising, as we increasingly recognize the effects of being born into, and living in, a white supremacist culture supported by deep wells of institutional racism. These feelings of anger, grief, sense of powerlessness, guilt, numbness, compassion or resolve - are an expression of our own suffering around race, and often interfere with our capacity to see clearly, or respond mindfully and usefully in the world.
John has noted that his black friends tell him there are mainly two things they want from white people: to show up for racial justice and to do education and healing work for ourselves. A number of us who participated in John’s Listening Circles programs were moved and energized by them and decided to offer the experience more widely.

What are Listening Circles and how will they be used in this session?

John Bell has used the technique of “Listening Circles” for over 30 years to help people communicate and feel heard, particularly in the area of racism. This session will consist of a 90-minute session including silence, education and structured Dharma Sharing-like pairs, small groups and whole group reflections to explore our experiences and feelings about race.
The purpose of Listening Circles is to provide a safe, structured space for white people to listen and be listened to, separate from their friends of color, about the emotional, heart level damage they have experienced by being soaked in racism and white supremacy conditioning. It assumes that each person is at a different place in their awareness of and engagement with racial issues. This type of Listening Circle accepts each person as they are, and assumes that being listened to in a safe space will allow each to explore their internalized racism at their own pace in their own way. It assumes that each person moves toward their own well-being and awakening as best they can, given all the causes and conditions, and deserves neither blame nor shame, but rather acceptance and appreciation. Information or action, as important as these are, are not the point of these sessions. Release and healing of painful emotions is the point, for both speakers and listeners.

For whom is this intended and what will this involve?

It’s intended for practitioners practicing with the Blooming Lilac, Cedar Cabin and Apple Blossom Sanghas who self-identify as white It will involve a commitment to a single 90-minute Zoom gathering
It will require a capacity for compassionate listening and mindful speech (with the aspiration to listen and look deeply as if we were the Buddha) There are no fees associated with participation There is an expectation of respectful confidentiality, during and after the session, as we would do for Dharma Sharing Follow-up sessions may be possible if interest exists, but are not yet planned.

We are pleased to invite you to join us in this deep heart work! We feel confident that the model John developed and the resources he has shared with us can help us all walk together on this path.

For more information or an application form, please contact us at: bloominglilacsangha@gmail.com

The BLS Listening Circles Team

Ceremony for the Deceased and Day of Mindfulness

Saturday Sept 19, 9 to 3 pm Mount Hope Cemetery
This is our quasi-annual ceremony and sharing time for supporting each other with the loss of loved ones, friends, pets. Several hours of outdoor sitting and walking meditation are followed by the Plum Village ceremony recited and sung in our shared voices. We then spend about an hour sharing stories of our loved ones into a circle of deep loving listening.
Be prepared to release your thinking and concerns and take up mindful breathing, seeing and hearing as you first enter the Mount Hope gate. The drive in to the oldest northwest corner of the cemetery creates the sense of “leaving” civilization, crossing a sacred threshold, for a few hours of mini retreat. It supports a spirit of deep connection with nature, earth, sky and our ancestors

Bring: lawn chair, blankets and cushions for creating a social distanced circle; masks; hand sanitizer; bag lunch for silent eating meditation; photo and some stories for one beloved person who has “Continued” in their ongoing transformation through death. The loss may have been this year or many years in the past.
Also if you would like, bring a photo of a loved one whose transformation has continued past death, and a story to tell about their life.

Restrooms are by the office at the south entrance to the Cemetery on Mt Hope. This is a 10 – 12 minute walk, 2 – 3 minute drive, from our meeting area.

Park for our meeting in the same spot as last year -- intersection of West Ave, Glen Ave & Patriot Hill. The way is twisty. It is useful to scout the location in advance. Directions are highlighted on this cemetery map. We suggest navigating to the entrance (clickable on map) and then making your way to the meeting location marked by an X (also clickable).

When you RSVP Chris will send this map with detailed written directions. But the way is not clear to everyone through the twists and turns. Please check out the route in advance. Or meet someone at the Cemetery office and drive together.

To register or discuss -- Chris Phillips, skunkowl@yahoo.com, 845-264-7000

Evening with Valerie Brown via Zoom: “How to Fight Racial and Social Injustice Without Hating”

Save the Date: Wednesday, October 21

Valerie is a Dharma teacher ordained in the Plum Village tradition
Look for updates as to time and more details in a few weeks
See Valerie’s article How to Fight Racial and Social Injustice Without Hating on Tricycle.org, a web and print magazine:

Your Input Wanted for Fall Retreat via Zoom with Michael Ciborski

Please write to bloominglilacsangha@gmail.com with your ideas for how/when a Fall retreat with Micheal Ciborski would work best for you.

August Day of Mindfulness - a success! Outdoors and In person with masks, social distancing, lots of soap and water.

Nine people attended our first in-person Day of Mindfulness on Saturday, August 22, since the lockdown started to keep us safe from COVID19. Even though we could not hug, we sure had a lot of smiles. Look at their eyes, they are smiling. Chris Phillips facilitated wonderful teaching, walking, and sitting, while ‘holding’ our Thay with us. We were joined by two rare red-headed woodpeckers! We plan to do this again in September (see information on September Day of Mindfulness- a chance to connect to and honor those who have died)

From the August Day of Mindfulness
Watercolor by Bonny Mayer

INTRO TO UNIFIED MINDFULNESS
NEW CLASS BEGINS THURSDAY September 24

Sangha member Chris Phillips will be leading a 12 week class of 90 minute Zoom sessions, introducing people to Unified Mindfulness with a special focus on Equanimity as a skill. Thursdays at 3 pm, starting September 24.

This will be a comprehensive sensory approach to establishing or optimizing a mindfulness practice. Learn the nuts and bolts of the UM system. Get precise about ways to understand and share your practice experience. Explore the best options for you.

After the class wraps up you can find support with coaching, or with ongoing weekly zoom groups on Monday evenings or Friday mornings.

This class is offered in exchange for the Buddhist concept of Dana or giving. We create a mutual gift economy. References available from other Sangha members who have taken the class. 8 students minimum required. 20 people maximum.

Website Registration opens -- 9/04 Closes -- 9/18

To learn more and contact Chris about this please visit his website sunlightoftheheart.com

BLOOMING LILAC SANGHA SCHEDULE

Sundays 4 pm – 6 pm: Zoom session starts anytime from 3:45 pm on. Please arrive by 3:55 pm. Format: Meditation from 4 pm to 5 pm with twenty-minute sittings and 5-minute walking meditation. We offer a recorded Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, a reading, or a guided meditation.

Tuesday & Thursday mornings: 7:15 am - 8:15 am: Zoom available starting at 7 am. Please arrive by 7:10 am. Tuesday is silent meditation from 7:15 to 8 am.

Thursday offers a guided meditation and walking from 7:15 to 8 am. We enjoy a short reading (3 to 5 minutes) after the meditation. The meditation (silent or guided) goes from 7:15 am – 8 am. Then at 8 am we take turns reading from a chosen book. We are currently reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book You are Here. You can order it from Amazon in audio or book form and from Parallax Press in kindle.

1st & 3rd Thursday evenings: Meditation & Study 6:45 pm. Meditation starts at 7 pm - 8:30 pm. Please arrive by 6:55 pm. We enjoy a short meditation and a longer reading (usually a chapter) together on 1st and 3rd Thursday evenings.

On the 1st Thursday evening, we are starting anew with The Heart of the Buddha’s teaching- Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, & Liberation. The four Noble Truths, The Noble Eightfold Path & Other basic Buddhist Teachings.

On the 3rd Thursday evening, we will be together reading another book by Thich Nhat Hanh

4th Thursday evening: 14 Mindfulness Trainings recitations 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm. Please arrive by 6:25 pm.

Zoom information: You may use a phone, smartphone, iPad, or computer. If you have a camera on your smartphone or computer you can have a video connection as well as audio. Computers and laptops should automatically install Zoom as you enter the meeting. If you are using an Apple iPhone/iPad, or an Android device you will need to download and install the app in advance. Email bloominglilacsangha@gmail.com for log-in information.

BLS Newsletter - August 2020

Letting Your Teacher Be Alive in You Day of Mindfulness

Saturday Aug 22, 9 - 2
(Raindate Aug 23)
Durand Eastman Park

Meet: Sunset Point Rd, near King’s Highway
Bring: masks, hand sanitizer, lawn chairs or cushions/blankets, bag lunch, water

In March 2019, Brother Phap Dung, one of the monastic teachers in Thich Nhat Hanh's community, gave an interview with Vox in which he briefly shared ways of practicing in solidarity with Thay now that he has been disabled by his stroke.

It is similar to the way Thay taught us to practice for and with our Inner Child or our Ancestors. There is an overlap with Thay's teaching of "let the Buddha do the walking."

Chris took a quote from this interview and made it in to a 6 line gatha. Chris proposes to spend several hours of silent sitting and walking meditation with these 6 lines as our only guided meditation. Let us allow the lines to raise our intention of love and deepen the simplicity of our concentration focus.

Breathing in, I breathe with my teacher within me
Breathing out, I see him smiling with me

When we make a step with gentleness, we let him walk with us
We allow him to continue within our steps

Letting go is also the practice of letting in
Letting your teacher be alive in you


We will be on the lawn in the shade of large trees near a public restroom.
We will enjoy a silent lunch meditation, and a short reading about the peace work of Thay and Sister Chan Kong during the American War.

To register and recieve directions -- Annie O Reilly ukemiracle1@gmail.com

Ceremony for the Deceased

Rescheduled to Saturday Sept 19
9 to 3 pm
Mount Hope Cemetery

This is our quasi-annual ceremony and sharing time for supporting each other with the loss of loved ones, friends, pets. Several hours of outdoor sitting and walking meditation are followed by the Plum Village ceremony recited and sung in our shared voices. We then spend about an hour sharing stories of our loved ones into a circle of deep loving listening.

Be prepared to release your thinking and concerns and take up mindful breathing, seeing and hearing as you first enter the Mount Hope gate. The drive in to the oldest northwest corner of the cemetery creates the sense of “leaving” civilization, crossing a sacred threshold, for a few hours of mini retreat. It supports a spirit of deep connection with nature, earth, sky and all our ancestors

Bring: lawn chair, blankets and cushions for creating a social distanced circle; masks; hand sanitizer; bag lunch for silent eating meditation; photo and some stories for one beloved person who has “Continued” in their ongoing transformation through death. The loss may have been this year or many years in the past.

Park for our meeting in the same spot as last year -- intersection of West Ave, Glen Ave & Patriot Hill. The way is twisty. It is useful to scout the location in advance, or meet at the cemetery office and car pool. Best route in = Enter at south entrance on Mt Hope, Fifth Ave to Ravine Ave, left on Indian Trail Ave, left on West Ave.

Detailed directions and cemetery map will follow in next newsletter.
To register or discuss -- Chris Phillips, skunkowl@yahoo.com, 845-264-7000

Your Input Wanted for Fall Retreat via Zoom with Michael Ciborski


Please write to bloominglilacsangha@gmail.com with your ideas for how/when a Fall retreat with Micheal Ciborski would work best for you.

Fall evening with Valerie Brown on Zoom for Rochester Sanghas

Not scheduled yet, but date will be announced when confirmed. This fall, we are planning to schedule an evening of mindfulness which will include a Dharma talk/teaching by Valerie Brown. This will be a joint effort with Dharma Refuge and the Rochester Zen Center. Would you like more information? Write to BloomingLilacSangha@gmail.com

Earth Holder Community Update

"Practices for Navigating the Swirling Waters of Change" Dharma talk by John Bell

In July’s Earth Holder Dharma talk, John Bell (he/him/his) gave a beautiful teaching that connected our practice to the current climate crisis, pandemic, and other challenges in the world today. I found this talk to contain many practice reminders, and how those practices benefit us in times of crisis and uncertainty. The talk touches on reconciliation, looking deeply, finding joy in the present moment, coming back to our breath, and the 5 mindfulness trainings - to name just a few. Part of this dharma talk was shared in one of our Sunday sittings in July. @adamlogan@gmail.com I updated this sentence today 8/1/2020

John is a Plum Village Buddhist Dharma Teacher who lives near Boston, MA. He is a founding member of YouthBuild USA, an international non-profit that provides learning, earning, and leadership opportunities to young people from low-income backgrounds. He is an author and lifelong social justice activist. He lives on the traditional lands of the Wampanoag people. His blog is www.beginwithin.info

Your sister in love for the earth
Karen Smith

RPCC Update

Color Your Community Green Leaps Forward!
This past week, RPCC hosted a webinar “Color Your Community Green” Many climate solutions can only happen through the action of the local government. This is especially true in "home rule" New York State, where towns and villages possess a great deal of authority and autonomy. RPCC is trying to mobilize climate action at the municipal level through Color Your Community Green (CYCG). Inspired by RPCC member organization Color Brighton Green, the CYCG initiative works to establish and resource citizen-driven climate efforts in as many towns, villages, and city neighborhoods as possible throughout the nine-county region.

In addition to Penfield, CYCG teams are beginning to spring up in Fairport, Pittsford, Irondequoit, Henrietta, and Spencerport/Ogden. Get connected to or start a CYCG team in your municipality or neighborhood by filling out our interest form. Times like those we are living in remind us of how interconnected we all are, and how much of a difference we can make if we all work together.

Climate Action from your Sofa
Rochester People's Climate Coalition - Facebook Page
Reminder: RPCC Climate Action series continues! Choose a webinar that interests you to learn more about actions you can take to impact climate change or empower yourself with knowledge. Some recent topics: Advocacy 101; Geothermal Heating and Sustainable Homes; “100-foot rule" Subsidies; NY Climate Youth Leaders; Fossil Fuel Divestment Act;
Know your Public Utility Rights Forum;

I would also suggest reviewing the RAICA (Rochester Area Interfaith Climate Action) web page. They are also a member of RPCC, and their campaigns in action include: Community Solar; Composting Service; Project Drawdown; Energy Efficiency; and Electric Transportation.

Grateful to be able to share the work of these wonderful organizations! If anyone would like to hear more about any of these programs in future newsletters, please email me at kdesjardin@gmail.com - Karen Smith

Interested in Interfaith Meditation?

Sangha member Chris Phillips organizes small groups to explore this together. This is his way of following Thich Nhat Hanh’s encouragement to return -- if we’d like -- to our spiritual roots, bringing with us the gems of Buddhadharma. Participants are from Blooming Lilacs, other sanghas, churches, temples, and may be active or inactive with Dharma, God-Religion, or Agnosticism. We have been meeting in person at member’s homes or at local churches, but switched to zoom with the COVID Shelter-In.

“Stillness & Presence” groups meet monthly on Tuesday (7 to 9) and Wednesday (6 45 to 8 45) evenings. These are interfaith practice sharing groups in which the participants co-mentor each other through sharing their experiences with Buddhist samatha-vipassana meditation and the stillness-presence elements of silent contemplative prayer. We use a book or audio to springboard our sharing.

Currently the Tuesday group is enjoying Jack Kornfield’s After The Ecstacy The Laundry: How The Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path. Jack has collected an inspiring library of anecdotes and direct quotes from long term meditators in many traditions. The Wednesday group has just begun Thich Nhat Hanh’s Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm.

Chris also leads “Intro to Centering Prayer” workshops inspired by the work of Contemplative Outreach International, Fr Thomas Keating and other Trappist monks who have synthesized a simple, modern way to communicate mystical classics like “The Cloud of Unknowing” and “La Noche Oscura”. This is all about releasing our addiction to thoughts and deepening a loving relationship with God as an indescribable Mystery holding us in boundless love. It’s a great way to meld mindfulness and prayer, or to share meditation with friends and family who may only be attracted to something within their home tradition. A four part series will run once or twice this fall.

Contact Chris Phillips, skunkowl@yahoo.com, 845-264-7000

Blooming Lilac Sangha Schedule:

Sundays 4 pm – 6 pm: Zoom session starts anytime from 3:45 pm on. Please arrive by 3:55 pm. Format: Meditation from 4 pm to 5 pm with twenty-minute sittings and 5-minute walking meditation. We offer a recorded Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, a reading, or a guided meditation.

Tuesday & Thursday mornings: 7:15 am - 8:15 am: Zoom available starting at 7 am. Please arrive by 7:10 am. Tuesday is silent meditation from 7:15 to 8 am.

Thursday offers a guided meditation and walking from 7:15 to 8 am. We enjoy a short reading (3 to 5 minutes) after the meditation. The meditation (silent or guided) goes from 7:15 am – 8 am. Then at 8 am we take turns reading from a chosen book. Starting April 30, we are reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book You are Here. You can order it from Amazon in audio or book form and from Parallax Press in kindle.

1st & 3rd Thursday evenings: Meditation & Study 6:45 pm. Meditation starts at 7 pm - 8:30 pm. Please arrive by 6:55 pm. We enjoy a short meditation and a longer reading (usually a chapter) together on 1st and 3rd Thursday evenings.

On the 1st and 3rd Thursday evenings, we are continuing with The Heart of the Buddha’s teaching- Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, & Liberation. The four Noble Truths, The Noble Eightfold Path & Other basic Buddhist Teachings. As we near the end of that book, let us know what books you are interested in for Thursday evening.

4th Thursday evening: 14 Mindfulness Trainings recitations 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm. Please arrive by 6:25 pm.

Zoom information: You may use a phone, smartphone, iPad, or computer. If you have a camera on your smartphone or computer you can have a video connection as well as audio. Computers and laptops should automatically install Zoom as you enter the meeting. If you are using an Apple iPhone/iPad, or an Android device you will need to download and install the app in advance. Email bloominglilacsangha@gmail.com for log-in information.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

BLS Newsletter - July 2020

Caretaking Council

When: July 9, 7 - 8:30 pm
Where: Via Zoom
Care-Taking Council Meeting open to all. Write to bloominglilacsangha@gmail.com for login information; agenda information or agenda items.

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 lovingkindness. 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.

A special message from ARISE Sangha

Suggestions for actions for us as individuals, as Sanghas, and as Community.

Earth Holder Community Update

Reclaiming Our Space: Finding Freedom Right Where We Are
With Sister An Nghiem and Sr. Thệ Nghiêm

Resources from the dharma talks/meditations:
Somatic Meditation for Healing and Social Justice in the time of CoronaVirus was distilled from this meditation on YouTube

Discourse on Love by Sister Thệ Nghiêm.
Text
Audio

Grounded: visit to learn more about and offer dana to “Grounded”, Sister Peace’s organization supporting detained youth.

ARISE (Awakening through Racism, Intersectionality, and Social Equity)
Visit to learn more about and donate to the Arise Sangha

Reclaiming our Space: Finding Freedom Right Where We Are (YouTube Dharma Talk)
Sister Peace and Sister True Vow provide grounding practices and teachings to help us find freedom in times of trauma and stress. Sister Peace presents a beautiful walking meditation to bring awareness and care to the body, and offers teachings around the events facing the community today. Sister True Vow shares insight on mettā meditation to help us channel our emotions and aspirations in a positive way.

Sister An Nghiem (Sister Peace) is a nun in the tradition of Plum Village and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who has dedicated her life to bringing the practice of mindfulness to people around the world –from educators, young adults and teenagers, artists and politicians. Sister Peace has been actively involved in sharing her experiences in the practice of mindfulness to help people understand the aspiration of Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to build the Beloved Community. She lived in and was ordained in Plum Village - France for 12 years.

Most recently, a major focus of service and practice has been with the children in the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center in Memphis, Tennessee, and East High School in Memphis participating in a collaboration of Mindfulness and the Arts.

Sister Thệ Nghiêm (Sister True Vow) is a second-generation Vietnamese-American who grew up in Pennsylvania. She was ordained in 1999 and currently resides and practices at White Crane Hamlet of Blue Cliff Monastery, NY. As a practitioner in the Plum Village Tradition, she received the Dharma Lamp Transmission from Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh in 2006. She has a deep interest in exploring the connections between Buddhist and Western psychology to help people heal and touch their fullest potential.

In gratitude for this session on caring for ourselves and all beings, recognizing the pain and suffering in our world today.

Your Sister,
Karen Smith

Day of Mindfulness

Lead by Chris Phillips
Saturday, July 18, 2020.
More details to be posted in the coming weeks.
Questions: Annie, ukemiracle1@gmail.com

Always, Annie

Interview with Valerie Brown:
On Buddhism and Blackness


Black activism and Buddhist mindfulness share a fascinating history — and future. Follow this link for the audio or transcribed interview:

Zoom into All Meditations with Blooming Lilac

Sunday 4 pm – 6 pm: Zoom session starts anytime from 3:45 pm on. Please arrive by 3:55 pm. Format: Meditation from 4 pm to 5 pm with twenty-minute sittings and 5-minute walking meditation. We offer a recorded Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, a reading, or a guided meditation.

Tuesday & Thursday morning: 7:15 am - 8:15 am: Zoom available starting at 7 am. Please arrive by 7:10 am. Tuesday is silent meditation from 7:15 to 8 am.

Thursday offers a guided meditation and walking from 7:15 to 8 am. We enjoy a short reading (3 to 5 minutes) after the meditation. The meditation (silent or guided) goes from 7:15 am – 8 am. Then at 8 am we take turns reading from a chosen book. Starting April 30, we are reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book You are Here. You can order it from Amazon in audio or book form and from Parallax Press in kindle.

1st & 3rd Thursday eve: Meditation & Study 6:45 pm. Meditation starts at 7 pm - 8:30 pm. Please arrive by 6:55 pm. We enjoy a short meditation and a longer reading (usually a chapter) together on 1st and 3rd Thursday evenings.

On the 1st and 3rd Thursday evenings, we are continuing with The Heart of the Buddha’s teaching- Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, & Liberation. The four Noble Truths, The Noble Eightfold Path & Other basic Buddhist Teachings.

4th Thursday evening: 14 Mindfulness Trainings recitations 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm. Please arrive by 6:25 pm.

Zoom information: You may use a phone, smartphone, iPad, or computer. If you have a camera on your smartphone or computer you can have a video connection as well as audio. Computers and laptops should automatically install Zoom as you enter the meeting. If you are using an Apple iPhone/iPad, or an Android device you will need to download and install the app in advance. Email bloominglilacsangha@gmail.com for log-in information.