Movies and the Trainings

I became a member of the Order of Interbeing in 1991.  At first, I was intimidated with some of the Mindfulness Trainings because I thought some of them seemed dogmatic.  But the longer I have been a member and study the trainings, the more I have learned their wisdom and depth.

One example is in the Fifth Mindfulness Training which reads in part “We will practice mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs, and any other products that bring toxins into our own and the collective body and consciousness.”  I love movies!  So when I see a new movie that looks good, I usually watch it. Usually the movie gives clues about the theme and where the plot is going.  Sometimes the movie leads to scenes of violence or cruelty.  I have realized that movies like this damage my spirit and make me feel awful about myself and the world.  I don’t want to feel this way!

So, I have learned that the Mindfulness Trainings are more than trainings.  They are also guidelines to protect us from unhealthy practices and thoughts.  Now when I sense that a movie will be unhealthy, I can easily decide to avoid it.

In my sangha, members read out loud the Mindfulness Trainings on a regular schedule.  I have noticed that the trainings speak to me in different ways from time to time.  Some trainings have a deeper impact on me at a different time than they did some months go.  Clearly the words did not change over the months, so I must have changed!  In a similar way, we may crave certain foods for their vitamins or tastes at one time and not care  about them at another time.

As the years have gone by and my awareness of the trainings have deepened, I more easily note when people around me are unaware of certain of the behaviors that the trainings speak to.  When certain people get angry and yell at another person, because of my awareness of the trainings, those people become my teachers.  I have begun to thank them silently for helping me understand the mindfulness training Number Six.

For the past three years, I have lived in a small retirement community in Philadelphia.  It is common that residents and staff share information about each other and developments in the community.  Sometimes I have seen this information sharing becomes hurtful when it is inaccurate and misleading.  This is when I have been grateful for a statement in The Ninth Mindfulness Training: “We will not spread news that we do not know to be certain nor criticize or condemn things of which we are not sure.”  The training helps me reconsider statements I might say.  The longer I am a member of the Order of Mindfulness, the more grateful I am of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings.

Stepping into Freedom: Savoring Life

I really had no expectations of this retreat (October 2011 at Blue Cliff Monastery), except to participate in the OI ordination ceremony, and to spend five days with Thay and 1000 of his brothers and sisters.  But of course, I found that they were my brothers and sisters too, my sangha also.  It was wonderful to be with my FCM OI friends John and Bill and Barb and Chris and Mary and Martina, and of course with my lifetime heart companion Nancy – I knew that would be so.  But I also took my place as one cell in a larger sangha body, the Plum Village – Blue Cliff – Deer Park – FCM – everywhere sangha that has grown around Thay and his teaching.

Nancy and I camped at Blue Cliff, in a tent village with hundreds of others, in simple, silent harmony. How beautiful to see many dozens of colorful tents grouped naturally together, each with just enough space around it, without fuss or clutter.  When we rose in the early mornings the only noise to be heard was the unzipping of tent doors as we made our way in ones and twos under the bright stars to the great Dharma Hall. Continue reading “Stepping into Freedom: Savoring Life”