A Letter from the Heart

ZEN

By Jeanie Seward-Magee

In 2000, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) wrote me this letter:

“It is always my happiness to know that you are practicing and consolidating the brotherhood in the Sangha. It is the most meaningful to do; Sangha building is what makes the Buddha most happy because a happy and harmonious. Sangha is the refuge for so many people.

Each look, each word, each gesture, and each smile is a brick for Sangha building. I always trust your intelligence: helping to build the Sangha is something making Thay happy and grateful.” (Sangha is the Buddhist word for Community.)

 

About the same time, Thay made a suggestion to our community that we each write a love letter to ourselves. A letter reminds us of our heart’s deepest longing that brought us to this practice and that we can keep nearby to read in challenging times.

I didn’t wake up one morning and see my path laid out before me like a yellow brick road. Wouldn’t that be great? Rather, I opened the door to the dull, secret ache in my heart, and I learned how to listen. Opening a space to listen is both the heart and the secret of meditation. I discovered that it was calling me to service, to openness, and to being as available as possible. And that was so scary because it meant giving up my idea of everything that I had known until then, everything I had accomplished, and who I was to become.

The funny thing with aspiration is that it is not a static thing. Just like us ourselves, it is always changing, always growing. That’s as it should be. Just like any relationship, we need to rediscover and renew our commitment many times a day.

And this is never easy. At times I felt that I couldn’t take another step and then somehow I did. I want ground under my feet, not something hazy in the near or distant future, even if it means that I need to allow myself to experience discomfort, confusion, and disappointment. I have now much gratitude for all of the difficulties that I faced. Each and every one of them has brought me to this moment, to this place, to all of the good conditions that I enjoy.

Why on earth am I writing about aspiration? Aspiration gives shape to our spiritual life and determines the kind of insight that it will manifest. In the life of a practitioner, the capacity of seeing things deeply beyond the surface appearance is one of the first fruits. People who choose to look deeply, to live from their hearts, and to be fiercely honest and transparent with the moment are the ones we have all been waiting for.

On October 28 and 29 at the LifePath Center in San Miguel de Allende, I will be offering a two-day retreat to develop mindfulness that is called Nurturing the Heart. I hope that you will join us! See details in Events.

 

Retreat

By Brother Phap Hai

On Oct 28 and 29, 10am–4pm

LifePath Center

Rinconada de la Aldea 29, San Antonio

US$75 fee for one day’s attendance

US$100 fee for both days

 

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