Dharma Teacher Jerry Braza has agreed to visit us on Saturday, August 24th to offer a Five Mindfulness Trainings transmission ceremony.
This ceremony is an important step for the Sangha. Taking refuge in the Mindfulness Trainings sets our intention to live an ethical life - a life that waters seeds of compassion and protects us from the suffering that inescapably follows our unskillful actions.
In order to prepare for this opportunity, The Anacortes Mindfulness Community has begun exploring the Five Mindfulness Trainings. We’ll spend the next months looking deeply into the Trainings, understanding and living them so that we can decide whether we’d like to formally accept these ethical guidelines as our own.
Our discussion this week was about the first Mindfulness Training, Protecting Life. The Buddha first phrased the Training, ‘Do not kill,’ but Thich Nhat Hanh rewrote it to better address the proclivities of modern Westerners. He begins with the line, ‘Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals.’
Thay’s version invites us to first become aware of the consequences of killing. Our Sangha uncovered many ways we kill, including obvious acts such as meat-eating, oppression, and environmental destruction, but also less obvious acts such as a violent internal dialog, unhealthy foods, and destructive relationships. Killing hardens our hearts. A fortress-heart may deflect the suffering of our killing, but it also deflects joy and beauty and peace.
Thay then asks us to use this awareness to build compassion. When we notice the suffering that surrounds our own killing, we respond with compassion and resolve not to water those seeds any more. Our compassion asks us to protect life and prevent war because our own experience shows us the suffering these actions cause. At the same time, we also experience the joy of compassionate non-harming.
On the ‘Resources’ page of this website we’ve posted a study document that shows three side-by-side versions of the Mindfulness Trainings. You might find it helpful to practice with each version and see what insights arise. We’ll be sharing our insights over the next months as we collectively unearth a Sangha-wide understanding of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings. Enjoy!