I had the most profound experience on Sunday! We visited the Deer Park Monastery, founded by venerated teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, for a day of mindfulness and to join ceremonies for his passing. I felt such profound peace and strong love. It was unlike any other experience in my life! Please watch this video or read the transcript to learn more about how it affected me.
D: Hi Tara
T: Hi Danny
D: How are you?
T: I’m doing well, how are you?
D: I am so happy today!
T: That’s great!
D: So are you going to say hi to our friends?
T: Sure… are you gonna say hi?
D: Let’s do it!
T and D: Hi friends!
D: I am so eager to share my recent experience at Deer Park Monastery! Can you explain some background?
T: Sure! So, we live in Escondido, in San Diego County, and we are very close to Deer Park Monastery, which is one of the centers established by Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known leader in mindfulness, a very important figure in the Buddhist world. His writings have really influenced my life as well as Danny’s life. Sadly, he passed away last week. This weekend was my second time and Danny’s first time at Deer Park Monastery. We were able to able to attend some of the memorial services as well as do walking meditation with the community in the morning. Was that an acceptable introduction?
D: Yes. And I am so powerfully moved by the experience! It was so calming and peaceful and the energy was so strong and so profound!
T: Yeah, within our first few minutes on site, Danny spelled “Wow, such energy.” And it was really amazing – so, in walking meditation, you are walking very slowly, very deliberately, very mindfully. Well, doing anything very slowly is not something that’s easy for your (Danny’s) body – you tend to charge ahead! But you did so amazingly. You never seemed like you were struggling to not rush, you didn’t show any signs of dysregulation.
D: Right. And it was so powerful to walk among so many people in such a mindful state!
T: Yes, we were basically walking in a big crowd of people on this beautiful trail in the hills of Escondido, and it was very quiet, very contemplative. You would not expect that from any large mass of people moving together.
D: And I felt so at peace with grief in those moments!
D: I loved the banner, “A cloud never dies.”
T: Yes, so, above the main meeting place, there was this beautiful yellow banner written in a copy of his calligraphy, and it said “A cloud never dies.” This is a quote that helped me a lot after our dad passed away, and the idea is that there’s no birth, there’s no death, there are just transitions between different phases or different manifestations. So, a cloud never dies, it turns into rain, and that rain goes onto so many forms in the oceans, lakes, rivers, through our tears, it waters plants, it evaporates again. This idea of no birth, no death is a very powerful one.
D: So powerful!
T: But I was just, again, so impressed – not only with the walking meditation where you were so calm, so at peace, no rushing – but during the seated meditation and the chants, you just sat so still, you were so at ease, even though it went toward what would have been our lunchtime and often you get really dysregulated when you’re hungry (as do many of us), you were so content to stay there and soak it all in.
D: I was so experiencing a life-changing moment!
T: Yeah, Dan – that’s so powerful. I know you’re familiar with his writings, before, from chatting with me, from reading some of his books… what was it about being there in person that rose above the influence of your former knowledge?
D: I had never felt such collective calm and spiritual energy. It was so amazing!
T: It really amazing, and we just spent the morning there, but it felt like such a retreat from our everyday stresses and worries. Just spending a morning being mindful, appreciating a beautiful setting, very thoughtfully and profoundly feeling and expressing gratitude for someone who’s touched so many people’s lives in so many hugely important ways – it was an amazing way to take a step back from everything
D: And to celebrate his astounding contributions to our world!
T: I’m…I’m so tired today, I’m not very articulate… kind of in an abstract sense, he was such an inspiring person for everything he’s done, for his various communities, for his country, for connecting mindfulness to social action, for being a lot more conscious about gender equality than many similar communities, and for guiding so many people to the practice of mindfulness. And on a personal level, his writings have touched me so deeply and helped me so profoundly during difficult times in my life, in a way that’s different from other thought leaders whose books I’ve read. For some reason, these ones were special. And the communities he’s built, and how he’s guided them – and will continue to guide them.
D: Totally! And it made me reflect on the meaning of community!
T: Seeing how one person – not driven by greed or profit or ego – to see the impact that one, albeit remarkable person, the influence they could have on the world in such a positive way – it’s beyond inspiring
D: And to know that we can each aspire to contribute to our own communities in our own ways!
T: So how do you feel that further learning about mindfulness will play a role in your life? Because you expressed a strong desire to dive in and learn more about mindfulness, about Buddhism, and to really practice more regularly.
D: I am so deeply touched by what I experienced on Sunday and I feel that further study and practice can truly help me find greater peace in my life! And I believe that many Spellers would also benefit as well.
T: So for you, it’s not only personally will it bring more peace to your life, but you think that other Spellers (people who spell to communicate) would get to enjoy those same benefits. I’m so inarticulate today!
T: Just as a side Danny, with Danny’s regulation not always being predictable, sometimes he’ll just say “I want to make a video. Today. Now.” And I don’t even know what it’s about. So if I seem vastly unprepared, it’s because I am. But I’m really enjoying chatting with you.
D: And me, too!
T: Oh, good.
D: So, I am eager to learn more and share more and maybe start a community of mindfulness for Spellers!
T: I love that idea. I think that would be fabulous! If I can share my opinion here, the Spellers I’ve met are among the most profound feelers and observers, they are already very very mindful, very spiritual in a way. I think it could be a very special and powerful community if brought together, in a situation where they can learn and practice more together. That would be such a profound and powerful community.
D: Totally! I am so glowing from the experience and so processing it still!
T: It’s been interesting – today, our spelling’s been a little off, just a little less fluent than normal, which is very unusual. I asked Danny, “What’s up?” and he said, “I’m still processing everything from yesterday, from our visit to the monastery.”
D: So many feelings and ideas!
T: Well I can’t wait to hear all about them once you have it all processed!
D: And I can’t wait to share!
D: So, that is it for now! Please let me know if you want to chat and scheme with me about such a community!
T: A community of mindfulness for Spellers!
D: Okay Sleepyhead [T: I guess I am a Sleepyhead today], that is it!
T: Okay! You wanna say bye?
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