Waking up in the morning here at our Portland Wake Up Tour headquarters is a great joy! The 11 members of our team as of today, all young adults, all committed to mindful living, wake up and come together in our Meditation/Dining Hall, sitting on cushions on a beautiful carpet in a large living room, the only furniture a grand piano. We sit, breath, enjoy some incense and tea as the day has not yet broken the darkness of night. The light in our heart and mind, the warmth of togetherness is already radiating, arriving in the moment and ready for a day of mindfulness in society.
We are learning many things during this tour and we offer opportunities for young people to continue to practice, a Wake Up group is meeting weekly: Monday's at 6pm in Eugene, a sitting group at Willamette University, Salem meets on Thursday 4-5pm and a Wake Up group in Portland is ready to sprout. Life is so precious and can be lived in such a rich and meaningful way. It is our wish to nurture this awareness in all the young people we meet on our path.
During many of our events we have showed "Peace is the Way" a short video put together by young monastics in Plum Village. The video include some teaching from youth retreats in Plum Village, by our Teacher, Thay. The title is a response to Thay's statement: "There must be a way leading to Peace".
Peace is Peace - sitting and walking in downtown Portland this evening: Peace is every breath. Joy is every step.
Wake Up Northwest Team greeted empty seats at Willamette University in Salem, OR today. We arranged two rows to start, installed the Wake Up flag near the front of the hall, and setup our customary registration table near the door with all of our practice handbooks, businessless cards, and mailing list sign-up sheets. At 4 o'clock, the scheduled start time of our two-hour mindfulness workshop, three people including our host, Karen, the University's Chaplain, were present. By 4:05 young adults arrived through the doors in packs of twos and threes and a few solos. By 4:10 we added a third row. Altogether 20 young adults stayed with us during the event of sitting, outside walking meditation, and a panel presentation on Happiness, Living a Busy Life, Personal Transformation and Healing, and Fellowship, or living in community.
What touched me most was our happiness together. In the presence of these courageous young people, I saw their dedication to transforming their life and society into a wholesome life, a society of peace and joy. It gave me hope to see the smiles of all those present. I was inspired in our openness to learn to love one another, accept ourselves, and find ways to better support one another in the art of building and living wakeful lives.
(dry erase marker on expression board)
Wake Up To Life: Returning to the Source... Two Events, One Evening, Full Day of Light, Beauty, and True Togetherness and Love
first day of the second week
autumnal breeze, fallen leaves blowing
a bit of traffic on 405 across the Fremont Bridge
Nothing to do, nowhere to go
Stopping at Overlook Park
across from Kaiser-Permanente
where after taking tea beneath a sprawling grandfather tree
whose name I do not know
we met a Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention group
to offer mindfulness practices for daily life.
What inspired me most about this event was the heartfelt sharings and the enthusiasm of counselors, staff, and patients of learning and applying mindfulness practices to their everyday lives.
Several times during our two-hour treatment meeting, I felt my eyes fill with tears.
Tears, the nectar of compassion
deeply hidden jewels inside and around me
Four of us offered our own understanding of mindfulness practice. We were introduced by our hosts as mindfulness practitioners. Nhu-Mai shared stopping and listening to the bell; Brian, walking meditation and working with strong emotion; Joanna, daily practices including sitting meditation in front of a mirror for self-acceptance; and Brother Phap Ho, mindfulness of breathing practice and loving kindness.
After departing Kaiser-Permanente, our group met the rest of the tour team at Yoga Shala for Portland's Dharma Punx, Rose City Rebel Dharma.
united by a common cause:
Wake Up Right Now
Tomorrow is too late
Wake Up Right Now
Wake Up ambassadors together with Heather from Rose City Rebel Dharma offered:
the Plum Village Evening Chant
panel presentation on mindfulness in a busy life
sharing the merit
and “Happiness is Here and Now”
Oohs and Ahhs surrounded the tour team as we announced there would be a public Meditation Flash Mob, Oct 8, at South Park Blocks, starting at PSU's Smith Memorial Student Union.
Twas a good day to be a Dharma King
sharing Wake Up Practices
with Buddhists and Non-Buddhists for a healthy and compassionate life and society.
Sanghahood = Together!
On Thursday Sept 27, at 11:30am, our touring group of 9 happy young adults (5 monastic and 4 lay) came together with good friends from Eugene and a bunch of strangers - friends we hadn't met yet. Flashmob mediation time! We sat at a green lush lawn at the campus, sunshine warming our hearts and minds as we sat in silence, peacefully for 30 minutes. After the sit we chanted: I am remembering, I am remembering who I am. We were all very present and awake and after our legs and feet were also ready to stand up, we took a mindful walk in silence through the campus. A friends shared later that many people crossing our path had smiled widely and some have looked with curiosity, but said that everyone noticed that we were there. Some stayed behind to enjoy some vegetarian pizzas that the Men's Center on campus had offered. We are warmly embraced by the local community of practice here in Eugene. We are staying in yurts that are being used for local meditation groups and are being offered great food made with a lot of homegrown vegetables.
We also have many friends helping with graphics for our tour poster, contacting universities and cities etc. We are hoping to host a public walking and sitting flash-mob meditation style event in Eugene, Portland and Seattle. We recognize the need in our society to be able to stop, calm, relax, embrace and look deeply into our life and our situation.
We have received support from many friends who have donated to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation to make this tour possible. We have also received some surprizing support from the car rental, which happen to have a 50% discount for this period.
The touring group will be together at Deer Park Monastery by September 9 and some of us are not yet familiar to each other. We are looking forward to keep you updated as this adventure unfolds and we hope that you can join us!
On plastic grass in front of Federal building in downtown San Diego, a group of 35 people sat together, silently and in peace. Following our breathing, aware of sounds but not taken away by them, we brought stillness, ease and joy to ourselves. We offered it to all the people in the City and the World as we closed our Sitting is Peace with the Chant May the Day be Well. For me to practice sitting meditation like that is so empowering, to bring what is so precious to me to the city and offer our presence, offering an alternative to the running, lights up my heart. I was also aware the our teacher Thay had been practicing sitting in London a few hours before and allowed myself to be in contact with our world wide community.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the Wake Up Tour group spent half an hour in the Rose Garden in Balboa Park, enjoying the roses and each others company. We had time to listen and share to each others experiences. We were able to enjoy the present moment and the sunshine as we sat in the real green dwarf grass. We were not waiting for the Walking is Peace event to start to nourish our happiness and peace. We gathered around the fountain at El Prado with a group of around 70 people and there we sang: We are all moving..., I have arrived, I am home & Now I walk in beauty. We made an aspiration to be in contact with our steps, relaxing, enjoying each step. We knew that the earth and many people on this planet need our love and care. So when we walked, touching to wonders of nature, of the city and each other, we also opened up our hearts to many beings in all directions. It is so wonderful to walk together, to have a way to live our life. My heart is at peace.
Yesterday evening I exited the Wake Up Tour. It feels like taking the exit after cruising on the freeway for miles and miles, happy to slow down, happy to be close to my destination. But during the tour I felt very at home: great people around me: brothers and sisters, lay friends on the tour, old and new friends that hosted us, in addition to all the young open and enthusiastic people that come to the events. I am very happy to cruise on the freeway and I am also happy to take the exit. Now I am reflecting on the experience, receiving the nourishment of the peaks as well as looking deeply at the most challenging situations during two intense weeks on the road. To tell you the truth it feels like a lifetime. So when does the tour really start and does it end? It continues for sure with my brothers, sisters and friends for another ten days. Returning to my home monastery Deer Park it continues for us as well, coming up is a Education & Meditation Weekend normally attended by around 200 students and educators. But in more indirect ways we cannot say that it ends. I am not the same person as before this adventure started. A couple of days two sisters asked if I would miss them and the rest of our traveling Sangha. Being a zen monk I smiled and said I am happy that you are here now. Looking deeply into this question during the last couple of days, I touched an underlying sadness/grief of coming close to a separation. Looking around the circle when we were all together I was happy to recognize that I appreciate, like and love everyone in the circle, so off course I miss you guys. But I also feel that you are right here with me writing these words, where else could they come from. During the Wake Up Tour we had nick-names and I was the “Time Bender”. During one of our meetings in Boston we discussed our flash-mob meditation – sitting is peace, and our involvement in Occupy Boston for a over an hour. I felt like the discussions took longer then the events themselves would. But suddenly I realized that we were about to touch the lives of hundreds of people that afternoon in downtown Boston – that's a lot of collective time right there, time can be warped, is not linear. It can be experienced in so many ways, it expands and contracts. During this tour I am well aware of situations where my experience of time has contracted. Mostly it has a connection to the experience of space. When someone approach me urgently, especially if I am in the middle of processing/acting something else, and not to mention if I am confined to a small physical space, I feel rushed and I feel like there is no time or space to take in or process/act on what is coming up. But time has also expanded when a situation occurs and there is a lot of time (and space) to relate to the situation. One day I was driving around Harvard square, letting two brothers of to run an errand, two siblings in the back seats working on a pamphlet, making a loop around the block before picking up the brothers again, cell phone rings, a message to receive and then a fire truck came blasting from behind sires full on. In that moment time and space expanded and I experienced myself finishing the phone call, maneuvering through the intersection offering space to the fire truck, well aware of siblings in the back of the van. Moments of heightened attention, clear and easy, opened up a hidden pocket of time and space, offering the opportunity to deal with a real life situations in a calm, capable and present manner. The life of a practitioner is awesome! The expansion of time has everything to do with my capacity to be with the situation as it is, not adding my story or my like or dislikes to it. When I am free from the taint of old experiences, the full potential of life is available, all in the expansive, dynamic present moment. Once we actually came to the flash mob meditation – sitting is peace, I sat the 30 minutes. I could describe it as a flash or a time of lifetimes. One moment, not to mention half an hour in our life can change the whole trajectory of our life, how much time is that when you're around a couple of hundred people! It seems that in what ever group/Sangha I find myself there are always the more loose/easygoing members and the more composed/determined members. From time to time I see myself in along the scale of these two mutual supportive poles. Nothing to hold on to, nothing to regret, surfing the waves of life – so cool and you don't even need a board! How can I express what this tour has meant to me? Very eager to learn what it has meant to you! So if you want to be kind to me, please do not approach me when I am bending over or squatting in the process to get something, it still becomes very stressful for me. If you want my input on something, please take a breath and leave some space as you share, because I will not pry myself into a constant flow of words. But time has also expanded when a situation occurs and there is a lot of time (and space) to relate to the situation. One day I was driving around Harvard square, letting two brothers of to run an errand, two siblings in the back seats working on a pamphlet, making a loop around the block before picking up the brothers again, cell phone rings, a message to receive and then a fire truck came blasting from behind sires full on. In that moment time and space expanded and I experienced myself finishing the phone call, maneuvering through the intersection offering space to the fire truck, well aware of siblings in the back of the van. Moments of heightened attention, clear and easy, opened up a hidden pocket of time and space, offering the opportunity to deal with a real life situations in a calm, capable and present manner. The life of a practitioner is awesome! The expansion of time has everything to do with my capacity to be with the situation as it is, not adding my story or my like or dislikes to it. When I am free from the taint of old experiences, the full potential of life is available, all in the expansive, dynamic present moment. Once we actually came to the flash mob meditation – sitting is peace, I sat the 30 minutes. I could describe it as a flash or a time of lifetimes. One moment, not to mention half an hour in our life can change the whole trajectory of our life, how much time is that when you're around a couple of hundred people! It seems that in what ever group/Sangha I find myself there are always the more loose/easygoing members and the more composed/determined members. From time to time I see myself in along the scale of these two mutual supportive poles. Nothing to hold on to, nothing to regret, surfing the waves of life – so cool and you don't even need a board! How can I express what this tour has ment to me? Very eager to learn what it has ment to you! The Wake Up Touring of the US will continue in the spring of 2012 this time on the West Coast, starting in San Diego going north.
Spent a lazy morning lounging. Light stomps of Phap Luu’s uber-cute nephew & niece feet pattering above. Tea-gathering with freshly dried sage from Deer Park – Phap Luu’s sister came downstairs with the kids to find some toys…between the wafts of smoke, musky smell & embered stem of the sage, it’s easy to see how she might have come to a different conclusion! Had a good laugh about that.
Never ceases to amaze me how the fragrance and sound of mindfully brewed tea draws brothers together. Add in the early morning quietude, gentle sips & appreciative smiles - who needs Starbucks?
The sun came out today! Wow, the Cape is something else. Had breakfast on the back deck, sun basking, toast, cereal, brothers and sisters all about…baby Sarah gave me a sticker!
The vibrancy of the trees somehow sleepy yet joyful; none of the leaves have changed to their autumnal gear yet…
A bunch of us hiked into town, down across a salt marsh, up through some light forest, wrapped around the beach and then back up to the house.
Br. Phap Linh found some crazy mushrooms en route, so we spent about 2 hours mushroom-gathering. I docilely hunted around for about 20 minutes before finding an amazingly huge pine tree, her majestic branches covering the sky. Of course I had to lie down on the scattered needles, arms outspread, an offering to the sky.
There’s always something about suddenly finding the blazing blue sky above, vast firmament, endless space. A blanketing humility – gentle and embracing, not like the sudden, dwarfing insignificance brought on by a fierce thunderstorm or natural disaster. Lying there, deep belly-breathing, leaves whispering, branches soughing, soft carpet beneath; deep, easy contentment, just being embraced by Mother Earth, Sky, clouds…everything is connected!
On the beach, headin’ home, passing around (must have been at least 10 lbs.) a bag of treasured mushrooms, we saw several ducks, dead of indiscernible causes. A poor turtle was also lifeless by the side of the road, shell completely shattered. We took some moments to breath (I tried to examine my fear of death briefly), then gathered his physical remains off to the side so they could decompose properly.
Wassup! First day of the Wake Up East Coast Tour 2011. All the brothers are passed out in their sleeping bags. Clock just ticked to 12:00 am, listening to some soothing tracks from Blue Cliff produced Mountains. My laptop’s only got 14 minutes of juice left in him, so this has got to be quickish.
After Thay’s Dharma Talk we packed our lunches and hit the road. We’re rollin’ in a convoy of 3: Aimlessness, Signlessness & Emptiness, respectively (the Three Doors of Liberation). We did a stop at an “Alternative Grocery Store” to load up on supplies (snacks! chocolate!).
Actually I had to pick-up this tin of candy, check it out:
Essentially homeopathic "anti-stress" chewables. We had to test it by mindfully chewing – so far, inconclusive. I think I may have felt a bit sleepy afterwards. Will have to sample many more – results to follow. Br. Phap Linh grinned, “We might as well cancel the whole tour, purchase boxes of these and ship them out to all the friends!”
We also stopped by Br. Luu’s childhood stomping grounds today, was pretty amazing. He basically grew-up “Where the Wild Things Are.” Acres of old growth forest, streams, a huge clear lake:
Was actually quite majestic and suitably awesome. Kindly disregard my yawning and scratching;we'd been on the road for about 4 hours at that point.
The Wake Up Tour 2011 is currently 5 monks, 5 nuns and 3 lay brothers. Spending the next 3 days in Cape Cod; Br. Luu’s Mom has a sweet house nestled in the forests here. Gotta hand it to the Kennedy’s: tons of state-protected swaths of beach & land.
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