Getting to Know Ourselves as One

green eyed zen cat

green eyed zen cat on a mat, no shoes or cushion ~d nelson

True peace is always possible. Yet it requires strength and practice, particularly in times of great difficulty. To some, peace and nonviolence are synonymous with passivity and weakness. In truth, practicing peace and nonviolence is far from passive. To practice peace, to make peace alive in us, is to actively cultivate understanding, love, and compassion, even in the face of misperception and conflict. Practicing peace, especially in times of war, requires courage. Thich Nhat Hanh, from “Creating True Peace”

At this moment I’m wishing for healing and ease for those torn apart in Boston. When I was there a month ago attending a mindfulness in education conference, people offered me so much kindness and support; alleviating my lostness, helping me feel welcome. Sending them loving-kindness from the heart. May we all feel safe to live our lives free of anger and fear, and know true peace. A chant for feeling safe with each other, I feel safe with you here.

Over the weekend fellow members of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Northern California core lay community came together to cultivate true peace, harmony and understanding; for their personal benefit, and the benefit of all. Happiness, sadness, relaxation and insight, experienced with brotherhood and sisterhood in the supportive environment of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. I’ll let the images and this insight poem that doesn’t rhyme reveal more.

NCal OI & Aspirants smile with trees ~d nelson

I presume every other cat knows Zen
even without a zendo.
Dwelling peacefully in the present moment
as natural as this purr;
a chanting from my heart,
with lightness, humor and sincerity.

Ahh, the sun is warm here on the grass
and here on the welcome mat.
Stressful emotion?
Meeoowww, stretched, it’s gone.
Was that a silly thought that just passed?
Probably not, but
the opposite could be true.

With clear mind, beholding
dimensions of time and space.
Seeing and being fully seen, heard, smelled, touched.
Getting to know you and all about you.

Nearly overwhelming with connection
to all perceived;
deer, raven, frog, hawk, lizard
call and response of hoot owls,
sun, wind, rain,

the small rodents, insects, reptiles and birds
to prey upon.
Otherwise food placed, just so,
at the right time
in my bowl.
In gratitude to the universe
for this food
and litter box.

Diligent humans hope to one day
experience this cat’s nirvana.
Feeling peaceful harmony within
and without my fur
97% of the time.

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Written as exultation of N. California Community of Mindful Living’s Order of Interbeing retreat at Sonoma Mt. Zen Center.

rake meditation at Suzuki Roshi memorial

rake meditation at Suzuki Roshi memorial

thank you for the food

thank you for the food

a few history books

a few history books

standing like a tree in the morning

wisdom passed down

wisdom passed down

fresh and solid

fresh and solid

remembering Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

 remembering Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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34 thoughts on “Getting to Know Ourselves as One

  1. aaremo

    Oh, that looks and sound amazing. Always been a huge admirer and fan (fan is probably not the right term haha) of Thich Nhat Hanh. I’d love to have been there 🙂

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      Thank you for taking time to share. It was a wonderful, refreshing, brief retreat time. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to see Thich Nhat Hanh during a retreat offered this year. You can watch “Plum Village Hamlets celebrating 30 years of meditation, happiness, harmony” on youtube and get a retreat experience, without the talks, or sitting and walking meditations. Be well.

      Reply
      1. aaremo

        Thanks! It’s something I’ve always been thinking about. Will have a look on youtube 🙂 don’t think finances will be permitting this year, I have other commitments, but then again where there’s a will there’s a way 🙂

  2. Touch2Touch

    I remember Chogyam Trungpa. He was my first “paper teacher.” Your beautiful photos are in stark contrast to the dreadful sights and sounds of Boston yesterday. Yet it is but one world. How to live with that?

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      Thank you for your kind comment. It is so challenging, isn’t it, this being human. And to aspire to live teachings which offer insight for being engaged in this world, yet having a heart that is undisturbed by the world. In every moment there is death, as well as life. How to stop the cycles of suffering, the eye for an eye? May all be well, happy and safe.

      Reply
  3. mkesling63

    I agree being peaceful and diplomatic is nothing weak. Fear is the aggresive one. Looks like a very nice interesting retreat. I like mountain retreats to enjoy.

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      Thank you for speaking and acting fearlessly, Michelle. Yes, being on the mountain, with the trees and wildlife was refreshing. Be well.

      Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      You’re very kind to comment, Bruce. It was relaxing and joyful. I’m grateful to share images and words of healing and generating feelings of safety amongst each other. Be well, david

      Reply
  4. nicseventysix

    It was quite a blessing to read your post!! It spreads a lot of peace. Wonderful photos! Thanks for sharing.
    I read about you visiting mindfulness in education conferences. If you’d like to tell me more about that (ahem, I am quite a newborn on wordpress …) maybe you could send me a private message? I would love to hear more about this as I am trying to teach mindfulness in my special school as teacher and soon-to-be art therapist -in training-.
    Namasté

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      Thank you for your kind comment. Welcome to the blogging world. In my posts “the heart of education” & “blooming for our buds” there is information about the mindfulness in education conference. Linking to the mindfuled.org site can offer you resources and an option to join the mien listserve, which is a way to connect to a thousand teachers & researchers from all over and ask for assistance or offer resources. Hopefully you can find time to watch the conference videos from this year, and even last year, as each speaker offers their insights into applying mindfulness into classrooms, along with the proven benefits for teacher and students, alike.

      If you are in Germany, a wonderful resource is the European Institute of Applied Buddhism http://eiab.eu/ . I visited there last summer and attended a mindfulness for teachers workshop.

      Reply
  5. nicseventysix

    Hi and thank you. Yes, I am working in Germany and I did hear about the eiab yet. But I haven’t visited yet, but this will change soon. Thanks so much for your information and your blog links. I will for sure check them out and try and watch the videos. Looking forward to it.
    All the best, Nic 🙂

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      Just noticed that Thich Nhat Hanh will actually give a retreat at eiab in early June. It would be most wonderful to attend, if possible. I know from having the good fortune to attend many retreats with him. May you be well.

      Reply
      1. nicseventysix

        oh goodness, that’s wonderful and I will check out the dates …though I am afraid that it might not be possible…but we’ll see.
        thanks for the very attentive post!!
        May you be well!
        I am about to post a meditation entry sometime today or tonight (european time ^^) ..It’ll be something “interactive” to exchange experience and points of view. Maybe you will have time to check in. 🙂

      2. nicseventysix

        Thanks again a zillion to hint to this even in EIAB!! It turns out I can to to the one-day retreat on June 2nd and I will now call the ticket hotline to get the ticket, how wonderful is that?
        Best to you, Nic

      3. smilecalm Post author

        smiling to your good fortune! i’m planning to be on his California retreat in the fall. when I was on retreat last summer I produced the clip “Plum Village Hamlets celebrating 30 years of meditation, happiness, harmony” which can be found on my videos. it gives a happy impression of retreats, excluding the talks, sitting, walking… Be well, david

      4. nicseventysix

        Thank you! I just signed in to check out the two entries you mentioned earlier.

        Oh, I will go watch this Video in a Minute, Thank you.. Just logged in to read your blog entries you mentioned earlier. the tickets for the Day in Mindfulness with Thich Nhat Hanh in Germany are already purchased. such a bliss.
        Be well, Nic

  6. jtk14

    Hey Smilecam, thanks for reading and commenting on my post! And thank you for what you share with your posts. I discovered meditation a few years ago and it has changed my life. There is a safe quiet space behind and benieth my thinking machine where I can rest from the chaos of my non-stop wordly clamor (my ego, thinking). I have gotten pretty good at it for a recovering punk know-it-all, who used to think this was all just too woo-woo. Yesterday I had to wait two hours all wired up on a gurney for surgery. I “meditated”. I wasn’t feared-up at all and didn’t need any valium. I do it in traffic, with my eyes open, of course. This has given me the sanctuary of the most delicious kind of personal anonymity time after time, and the avail of unlimited peace and space in any moment. It’s freedom. I give my scalp and neck muscles a break from their clenching here, I am my own loving nurturer. I tap in to higher, deeper, greater power than myself here. (I am identifying with, not preaching to, the choir :). If I can do it anyone can, and its good to belong.

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      I’m waving pom poms as a cheerleader for your continued success in experiencing inner peace and joy. May your happiness blossom within everyone in your life, with each mindful breath.

      Reply
  7. celestedimilla

    Hey there! You liked a post on my blog so I wanted to check out your blog and say, “Hi.” I really connect with your blog. I’ve lived my life as an anxious person. I’ve grown a lot and am less anxious now than in the past, but I still have not found Thich Nhat Hanh’s ‘true peace’. In an effort to discover greater peace, I’ve attempted to develop a meditation practice many times in my life. It’s never become a habit. I find your blog inspirational. Celeste:)

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      I’m happy to hear of your aspiration to find relaxation and inner peace. Perhaps it can be as simple as letting each step kiss the earth in gratitude, to the tempo of your natural in and out breaths. Wishing you joy in your life and practice.

      Reply
  8. fgassette

    What a wonderful peaceful place! I love the video. Thanks for sharing.
    Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you took to stop by. May your day be filled with joy and peace.
    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

    Reply
  9. Wambui Bahati

    I love this post. You are a beautiful spirit. I have no words to describe how wonderful these photographs are. And, your thoughts are much appreciated. PEACE-

    Reply

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