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Letters from the Editors

Dear Thay, dear Sangha,

Last year, during a meeting of the Mindfulness Bell Advisory Board, Thay Phap Dung proposed a theme of “Youth, Community, and Service” for this summer’s issue. Thanks to his guidance and the generous collaboration of our guest editors, Brandon Rennels and Hong-An Tran-Tien, this is a vibrant issue that buzzes with the fresh, lively energy of youth.

Many of the articles focus on Wake Up—“young Buddhists and non-Buddhists for a healthy and compassionate society,” as Thich Nhat Hanh describes the global movement he lovingly sparked. In these pages, Brothers Phap Linh and Phap Luu, Sister Hai Nghiem, and lay friends tell stories about the origins of Wake Up and about how it is flourishing. Wake Up practitioners share ideas and inspiration that may be useful for starting, growing, and caretaking a Sangha of any age group. And beyond the bounds of Wake Up, young children and adult educators share the joy of their innovative practices and boundless enthusiasm. 

Reading this issue, there’s no denying that waking up is an ardent aspiration for young people all over the world. There’s no denying that the seeds of mindfulness and compassion have taken root and sprouted in many, many hearts—and are flowering in countless beautiful ways, from people gathering for flash mob meditations in city plazas, to young adults volunteering as meditation teachers and learning to question their privilege and challenge racism, to a child writing a letter to his president advocating an end to war. In this rising tide of compassionate awareness, it is easy to see the presence of the Buddha and our beloved Thay.

May these offerings nurture the awakening of children, teens, young adults, adults who teach and mentor youth, and the baby Buddha growing up within each of us.

With love and gratitude,

–Natascha Bruckner
True Ocean of Jewels

Dear Thay, dear Sangha,

When Natascha first asked me to be a guest editor for this issue, my response was immediate: Yes. 

When I reflect on the theme of “Youth, Community, and Service,” a feeling of optimism for the future arises. This optimism is not a hope or dream that things will be better someday in the future, but rather a recogni­tion that in this present moment there are thousands of young people out there, all over the world, who are committing themselves to practicing a path of love and understanding. In our current climate of economic and environmental uncertainty, this is good to keep in mind.

There are longstanding young adult Sanghas like those in New York City, London, and Hong Kong alongside recently established groups in Colombia, Singapore, and Ohio. We are continuously adding new Sanghas to the map as well, from Slovenia to Salt Lake City. Each week Hong-An and I receive emails from people who want to get together with other young adults in their area and practice mindfulness. Chances are, as you are reading these words there is a young adult Sangha sitting together quietly somewhere in the world. 

In other words, we’re Waking Up. 

As you read the following pages I invite you to touch the seeds of joy and optimism within you and see what flowers are ready to bloom, both in yourself and in the world.

–Brandon Rennels
True Garden of Faith

Dear Thay, dear friends,

I am very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate in this issue of the Mindfulness Bell as a guest editor. As part of the theme for “Youth, Community, and Service,” the Wake Up movement is dear to my heart because I’ve built strong brotherhood and sister­hood with many Wake Up Sanghas and with people I’ve met in Wake Up retreats. We have the aspiration to practice mindfulness as a community, make an impact on society by living more joy­fully and mindfully, and share this with everyone we encounter on our path.

I am delighted by the various contributions offered by the monastic and lay community, such as Sangha building, the inclu­siveness of all-ages practitioners in the Wake Up movement, and the introduction of mindfulness in a charity and in education. I hope this issue will inspire young adults to either form a Wake Up Sangha in their hometown or take action with a Wake Up Sangha to serve their hometown.

It’s time to Wake Up!

–Hong-An
Conscious Aspiration of the Heart

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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